Former CFL defensive back Lin-J Shell passes away at the age of 39

Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Lin-J Shell (14) intercepts a pass intended for Edmonton Eskimos' Cory Watson, not seen, during the first half of CFL action in Winnipeg, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. Shell, who played seven CFL seasons with four teams, has died. He was 39. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Lin-J Shell, who played seven CFL seasons with four teams, has died. He was 39.

The cause of death was not immediately known.

Shell was a defensive back with the Toronto Argonauts (2009-11), B.C. Lions (2012-13), Calgary Stampeders (2014) and Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2015). All four clubs, along with the CFL Alumni Association, took to social media to express their condolences to Shell's family and friends regarding his sudden passing Thursday.

The five-foot-11, 180-pound Shell was Toronto's top rookie in 2009 and an East Division all-star in 2010-11. Shell earned a Grey Cup ring with Calgary in 2014 before finishing his CFL career with Winnipeg.

Shell, a native of Orlando, Fla., had become a football coach at Jackson High School in Jacksonville, Fla. upon retiring as a player.

In 2018, Shell was teaching physical education at Jean Ribault High School in Jacksonville when he disarmed a woman who had retrieved a gun and was returning to a school gym where an altercation had ensued.

A number of former CFL players took to social media to remember Shell. Many echoed the sentiments of former Argos running back Jeff Johnson.

"This is heartbreaking," Johnston tweeted. "He impacted everyone on the field and off the field.

"Lin-J was one of those guys going out of his way after practice/game to say hello, visit with kids/fans on the sidelines and share words of positivity. He impacted many. RIP bro."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 30, 2021.

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