PITTSBURGH (AP) – Long-time Pittsburgh Steelers scout Bill Nunn Jr. died Tuesday night of complications from a stroke. He was 89.
Through 46 seasons in the NFL, Nunn was considered one of the premier scouts of the traditionally black colleges. In 2010, Nunn became part of the inaugural class of the Black College Football Hall of Fame, along with such NFL stars as Deacon Jones, Walter Payton, Willie Lanier and Tank Younger.
Among the players scouted by Nunn who went on to lead the Steelers to their 1970s dynasty were Mel Blount, John Stallworth, L.C. Greenwood, Donnie Shell and Ernie Holmes.
“We have lost a great friend and a great person who did so much for the Steelers organization with the passing of Bill Nunn,” Steelers owner Dan Rooney said. “Bill was a special person who did everything in his career, from playing sports to being an excellent journalist, all of which led to his outstanding career in scouting for the Steelers.”
Born William Nunn Jr., he played basketball at West Virginia State and was asked to help integrate the NBA after World War II. Nunn entered journalism, first as a sports writer, then sports editor, then managing editor of The Pittsburgh Courier, one of the most influential Black publications in the United States.
He also did some promoting, including boxing bouts and Negro League baseball games involving the Indianapolis Clowns at Forbes Field, the home of the Pirates.
Nunn started scouting for Pittsburgh in 1967, took a full-time job with the Steelers in 1969, and was a major contributor to putting together the great Steelers teams under coach Chuck Noll.
“My feeling is that so much of what I did to be a part of this was done when I was with the newspaper,” Nunn said when inducted into the Black College Hal of Fame. “Getting to the Steelers, of course, also was due to the newspaper. Having dealt with black colleges for most of my newspaper life, I feel good about that. I picked the Black College All-America football team starting in 1950, and the last one I took part in was in 1974 when I was a scout here and we drafted John Stallworth. So as a result, I felt very good about being a part of that.”