Former CFL all-star defensive back Lin-J Shell passes away at age 39

Photo courtesy: Toronto Argonauts

The CFL community is in mourning after two-time East Division all-star Lin-J Shell passed away on Thursday after a battle with COVID-19. He was just 39.

The Orlando, Florida native was undrafted after a Hall of Fame career at Jacksonville University and played five seasons of arena football before signing with the Toronto Argonauts ahead of the 2009 season. He was named the team’s Most Outstanding Rookie in his first season, before earning back-to-back all-star selections at defensive back in 2010 and 2011.

Shell was cut by the Argos the following off-season, and signed with the B.C. Lions for the next two seasons. He won a Grey Cup as a member of the Calgary Stampeders in 2014, before finishing his career in 2015 as a member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

In seven CFL seasons, Shell made 407 tackles, 10 sacks and 10 interceptions.

After retirement, Shell transitioned into teaching and coaching. He made national headlines in 2018 after he disarmed a woman with a gun at Jean Ribault High School in Jacksonville while working as a gym teacher. Shell served as the interim head coach of the Ribault football team in 2019, going 4-5 before moving on to be an assistant coach at Jackson High School.

Shell’s cause of death hasn’t been reported. This story will be updated if more details emerge.