For former Kansas City Chiefs standouts Tony Richardson and Will Shields—both members of the Chiefs Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor—the opportunity presented to them to help the next generation of NFL players wasn't much of a decision.
They were eager to help.
Shields and Richardson are two of the 13 NFL Legends who will serve as mentors for the incoming group of NFL prospects at the Scouting Combine this week in Indianapolis, providing support and guidance for the players about the process and the transition to the NFL.
"We get to introduce them to the NFL," Shields, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015 after 14 seasons in Kansas City (1993-2006), explained. "We give them an opportunity to ask us old guys what it's like, what to expect, what to do and what not do. We're trying to get in front of each guy and give them an opportunity to ask the tough questions now.
"We can be that sounding board, but also that support."
This is actually the third year of the Combine mentoring program, and both Shields and Richardson have participated in the past.
Richardson, a fullback who spent 11 seasons with the Chiefs (1995-2005) blocking for guys like Marcus Allen, Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson and who was inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame last year, spends his time with the running backs while Shields is working with the offensive line.
During the week, Shields, Richardson and the other 11 NFL legends participating accompany their positional groups to various sessions, including workouts, on-field drills and press conferences.
"It's really to just be a comforting soundboard because this is really nerve-wracking," Richardson explained of the roles of these mentors. "A lot of these guys, this is the biggest stage they've ever been on with all these people and all this media. The biggest thing we want to do is tell them to relax and be proud of all the hard work they put in, and now it's time to have fun.
"Obviously, it's still a job interview, but relax, take a deep breath and everything is going to work out."
The opportunity to help the next generation of NFL stars is why Shields and Richardson agreed to do this for another year.
"That's what's important to me—to be able to sort of give a little back to the NFL and the young guys to build them up so they know they're one of many, but that they're just as important," Shields explained.
"If I would have had someone to talk to going through the draft process it would have made things a lot easier," Richardson added. "It's great that the NFL sees the importance of having us here and I think the young guys are pretty receptive."
Richardson said he particularly likes the fact that he can build relationships with younger players, which makes watching the games on Sunday that much more enjoyable.
"It's pretty cool when you're sitting at home watching television and you remember working with that young man, or if you could shoot him a text and tell him and say you saw that run or that play," he explained. "That's one thing I made it a point the last couple of years, giving guys my cell phone number and letting them know if they need me for anything throughout the year, just pick up the phone and call, and guys have.
"We just want to be a great resource and be available for them."
There are 330 college prospects at the combine this week hoping to show NFL teams they can be a valuable asset to their organizations, and Shields, Richardson and the other NFL legends who have already shown they were a value to theirs, are hoping to make that process a little easier on the next generation of stars.