Will Shields didn’t generate much fanfare when the Chiefs selected him in the third round of the 1993 NFL Draft.
Kansas City was in the midst of “Montana-Mania” at the time. The Chiefs didn’t have a first-round draft pick after orchestrating a trade for San Francisco 49ers QB Joe Montana. There was no second-round pick either. That slot was used in the 1992 Supplemental Draft to select Florida DE Darren Mickell.
Shields was Kansas City’s top pick in 1993, but only by default. With future Pro Football Hall of Famers like Montana and RB Marcus Allen surrounding him, Shields’ arrival in Kansas City went largely overlooked.
“That was a great thing because when I first came in I wasn’t ready,” Shields said. “The first day I came to training camp and put on the pads, I was still behind both mentally and physically.
“I think it was a good thing that our team had all of those big-time athletes because it showed me the way to become a better player.”
Ready or not, it didn’t take Shields long to find the field.
An Opening Day injury to Dave Szott pushed Shields into the starting lineup by Week Two of his rookie year. It’s a role Shields wouldn’t relinquish until opting for retirement after the 2006 season.
“In my first start the coaches, of course, told me to make sure that Joe didn’t get hit,” Shields recalled. “So that was in the back of my mind, just making sure that whatever I did I made sure Joe stayed upright.”
From that first start blocking for Joe Montana to his last game protecting Trent Green in the 2006 AFC Playoffs, Shields was a mark of consistency. His 224 games played ranks first in team history while his 223 starts also rank as the top mark in franchise annals.
During his 14-year career, Shields was elected to 12 consecutive Pro Bowls, earning his first trip to the NFL’s annual all-star game following the 1995 season. His 12 career Pro Bowls stand tied for sixth all-time in NFL history for most career Pro Bowl appearances by an NFL player.
His 14 seasons played for the Chiefs tie him for second-most in team history.
“At that point in my career I pretty much knew it was going to be my last game,” Shields said. “My whole family actually drove up for that game, which was one of the only times they went on the road to see me play. It was really tough to know that the next year I wouldn’t have pads on, but on the other hand you’re happy to let the muscles heal a little bit.”
The time had arrived. Shields knew it was time to turn out the lights on an illustrious career.
“There were a lot of little things,” Shields remembered. “There was the soreness and those little things, but the team was also going young and with my body and its turmoil, it was going to be tough for me to stay and rebuild fourteen years into my career.”
Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt honored Shields’ accomplishments Saturday evening at the 42nd Annual 101 Awards in Kansas City. It was there that Hunt officially recognized Shields as the team’s newest Hall of Fame inductee.
“Will gave us every bit of energy he had for 14 seasons both on and off the field and we are truly grateful for all of his contributions,” Hunt said. “His love for the game, commitment to the Kansas City community and his unprecedented play made him an easy selection for the Chiefs Hall of Fame.”
Shields’ HOF bust will be unveiled during Alumni Weekend next season. He’ll also be honored at halftime of a Chiefs home game in 2012.
“This is a very big honor because it recognizes the time you spent in your organization and your organization is saying thank you for being there and for doing a good job,” Shields said. “It’s cool because this is the team that gave me an opportunity to show what I could be as a professional athlete.”
Shields continues to make his home in the Kansas City community and keeps his “Will to Succeed Foundation” active today. Established in 1993, Shields’ foundation and its various programs have positively impacted more than 100,000 individuals.
He won the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award in 2003 for his extensive work off the field.
Shields will become the 42nd member of the Chiefs Hall of Fame.
Chiefs Hall of Fame
G Will Shields (2012)
CB Kevin Ross (2011)
Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer (2010)
K Nick Lowery (2009)
DT Curley Culp (2008)
CB Albert Lewis (2007)
DE Neil Smith (2006)
Administrator Jack Steadman (2005)
RB Joe Delaney (2004)
LB Gary Spani (2003)
T John Alt (2002)
LB Derrick Thomas (2001)
RB Christian Okoye (2000)
S Lloyd Burruss (1999)
DE Art Still (1998)
T Dave Hill (1997)
S Deron Cherry (1996)
RB Curtis McClinton (1995)
C Jack Rudney (1994)
LB Sherrill Headrick (1993)
K Jan Stenerud (1992)
RB Abner Haynes (1991)
LB Jim Lynch (1990)
RB Ed Podolak (1989)
P Jerrel Wilson (1988)
Head Coach Hank Stram (1987)
CB Emmitt Thomas (1986)
LB Willie Lanier (1985)
G Ed Budde (1984)
WR Otis Taylor (1982)
DT Buck Buchanan (1981)
LB Bobby Bell (1980)
QB Len Dawson (1979)
RB Mike Garrett (1978)
T Jim Tyrer (1977)
C/LB E.J. Holub (1976)
E Chris Burford (1975)
HB/S Johnny Robinson (1974)
TE Fred Arbanas (1973)
DT/DE Jerry Mays (1972)
RB Mack Lee Hill (1971)
Founder Lamar Hunt (1970)