Former Steeler Pro Bowl Receiver Dies

Former Pro Bowl receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers Ron Shanklin died Thursday morning after battling colon cancer for the past 2½ years. He was 55 years old.<br><br> Shanklin passed away in DeSoto, a south Dallas suburb, his wife Linda told The Associated Press.

Before Hall-of-Famers, Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, the Steelers relied on second round pick Shanklin to ignite their passing attack. Shanklin led the Steelers in receptions each of his first three seasons from 1971 - 73, but in 1974 he saw his playing time reduced because of the emergence of Swann. He was the second player ever drafted by Pittsburgh coach Chuck Noll, right after Terry Bradshaw.

"Ron Shanklin was a terrific player and was one of those guys who helped us make the transition from the late '60s to the Super Bowl championship teams of the '70s," Steelers president Dan Rooney said. "We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to his wife, Linda, and family."

Career-wise, Shanklin caught 166 passes for 3,047 yards (18.3 per catch) and 24 touchdowns with the Steelers. He currently is 15th in Steeler history in receptions, 10th in yards, and tied for eighth in touchdowns.

He earned a ring with the 1974 Super Bowl team, but his best season was 1973, when 10 of his 30 receptions were touchdowns and he led the NFL with a 23.7-yard average. He caught at least one touchdown pass in six consecutive games, a rare feat in today's game. The players voted him the 1973 Steeler MVP and he earned a spot in the Pro Bowl. Unfortunately, a neck injury kept him out of the game.

Shanklin played his final NFL season in 1976 as a member of the Chicago Bears.

Upon retiring Shanklin began coaching. He coached at his alma mater, North Texas State, and the University of Houston. He was elected to the North Texas and Texas Panhandle Halls of Fame.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Good Street Baptist Church in Dallas by Evergreen Memorial Funeral Home.

Shanklin is survived by his wife Linda; two daughters, Ronda and Veronica; his mother and stepfather, Rose Marie and Mervyn Davis of Fairfield, CA; eight brothers; and three sisters.

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