Shields in 2015: Historic Career in Kansas City

Looking back at the career path of one of the best to ever wear a Chiefs uniform, Will Shields

This is the third installment of a four-part series this week at KCChiefs.com chronicling the career of Will Shields, who is a finalist for the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame class.

The class will be announced at the "NFL Honors" ceremony, which will air Saturday, January 31 at 8 p.m. CST on NBC.

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After 10 years with the Kansas City Chiefs, starting right guard Dave Lutz, who had been the team's second-round draft pick in 1983 out of Georgia Tech, left before the 1993 season for the Detroit Lions.

This left an opening at the right guard spot for a Chiefs team that had four straight winning seasons under then-head coach Marty Schottenheimer.

In the three previous seasons (1990-92), the Chiefs had gone 31-17.

After falling to the San Diego Chargers by a score of 10-7 in the AFC Wildcard game to end the 1992 season, then-general manager Carl Peterson believed they needed to make some changes on the offensive side of the ball in a couple of key spots.

Bringing in quarterback Joe Montana and running back Marcus Allen, along with two future Hall of Famers in one offseason was the kind of splash Peterson was looking for.

But the trade for Montana resulted in the loss of their first-round pick, and since their second-round pick had been exercised the year before in the supplemental draft, their first pick in the 1993 draft wouldn't come until the third round. Meanwhile, the Chiefs had a hole to fill at right guard.

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The Chiefs, a team with high hopes and expectations, couldn't afford to miss.

Before that draft, Will Shields, an All-American from Nebraska who had just won the Outland Trophy, the award given to the best interior lineman in the country, had a few teams he believed would select him.

One team Shields felt good about was Washington, but when they selected running back Reggie Brooks with the 45th overall pick in the second round, Shields wondered what was going on.

"My agent is from Kansas City, so he goes, 'Don't worry. The Chiefs need a guard. The guard just left. They're going to pick you up, I can feel it,'" Shields recalled.  

"So the Chiefs gave me an opportunity."

Shields was selected in the third round (No. 74 overall) by the Chiefs.

"It was really cool because I had sat with that same coaching staff three months before at the East-West Shrine game," Shields recalled. "At that time it was Marty Schottenheimer. He sat there and goes, 'So Will, what are you going to do? I've got a guard spot open. What do you think you can do? Can you fit? Can you do this?'

"I said 'You know coach, You've got a guy you just brought in, you paid him good money, he's going to play there. I might be behind him for a little while, but I'm going to take his job.'"

Photos of Will Shields as a Kansas City Chief.

 

In the Chiefs' first game of the 1993 season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, starting left guard Dave Szott suffered an injury and Shields had to step in and play right away.

The rest as they say—is history. Shields took the job and never looked back.

The following week against the Houston Oilers, the Chiefs made some changes along the offensive line, which included Shields as the starter at right guard. 

That began a streak of 223 consecutive games that Shields started along the offensive line for the Chiefs, which ranks as the best in franchise history and fifth-best in NFL history.

Shields was named to 12 Pro Bowls and was a seven-time All-Pro during his illustrious 14-year career (1993-2006), all of which came in a Chiefs uniform.  

Shields blocked for seven different quarterbacks in his 14 seasons and spent more time next to center Tim Grunhard than any other player in his career.

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Between 1993 and 2006, Shields played for four different head coaches in Kansas City, which included Marty Schottenheimer (1993-98), Gunther Cunningham (1999-2000), Dick Vermeil (2001-05) and Herm Edwards (2006).

"(Dick) Vermeil was really the closest coach I had that I could call on a day-to-day basis," Shields said. "He was open that way, to basically say 'Hey, call me, ask me a question, anything you want to know,'

"Still today, I could pick up the phone and call coach [Vermeil] and he would be there to answer questions or talk to."

During those 14 seasons that Shields was with the Chiefs, they finished 131-93 in the regular season.

The only thing that can trump what Shields was able to accomplish on the field is what he's done for the Kansas City community away from it.

That will be detailed in Friday's installment of this series, chronicling the career of Shields as we await Saturday night's "NFL Honors" ceremony, when we'll find out if Shields is a member of the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame class.


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