The wait is over!
There are other Hall of Fames that you get inducted to, before the big one comes calling; those are the ones that you go, "Wow, that's cool. I'm in the Chiefs Hall of Fame; I'm there in the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame and I'm in the College Football Hall of Fame" and the one that's left is the big one.
Long-time Kansas City Chiefs guard Will Shields admitted the "Big one"
On Saturday, when former Kansas City Chiefs guard Will Shields was informed that he is in the 2014 Class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he was able to put a stamp on a career that began with motivating opportunities.
Shields was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the third round of the 1993 NFL Draft, out of Nebraska, where he was named the 1992 Outland Trophy Award winner as the nation's top interior lineman. Despite impressive collegiate stats, he new the NFL was an entirely new level.
"During my rookie year in 1993, coming back the second minicamp, I had improved a little bit," Shields said. "I worked on my game, when I was away, and basically started showing little signs or flashes that I might be able to play a little bit, then, before we came back for training camp, they brought me in and my offensive line coach Alex Gibbs said, 'When they first drafted you', I didn't know anything about you and how you could play and now that you're here and you're performing at a higher level, if I get a chance, I might try to ride you to retirement.'"
It was that comment that fueled Shields to work tirelessly to prove the teams who bypassed him in the draft wrong. And then, opportunity came knocking for the Chiesf Hall of Famer guard, early on in his rookie campaign.
"The left guard got injured," Shields recalled. "So they had the right guard (Dave Szott) go over and play the left, and then I came in and played the right side.
So basically…gave me my start. By him getting injured and me getting the opportunity to go and play the game. At that point they had told me that 'hey maybe five or six weeks down the road, we'll get you in the game. We'll get you playing more' and that kind of thing. It just sort of happened a little early. And then just like anything else at the end of the season coaches start going 'hey you're a rookie, we want to also keep our guy that was here as a starter that we need to keep into the loop, into the game so that he doesn't start thinking well this is over with. So we'd rotate, after so many series or halftime or what have you, which was also unique but he also wanted to keep my mind fresh in the game. So I didn't have those lapses and everything else that happens sometimes.
I would have to say it was the opportunity of a lifetime to play a sport for a living and also just the love back and forth was tremendous. That I could say I actually had a career at the highest level of a sport. That's the coolest thing ever. They say 'yeah well you played a little bit right?' I was like 'yeah' 'well how many seasons?' and you say '14' they go 'oh well you played a whole lot then.' That's what one of the coaches that were around us that rookie year would go, you know through the years of coaches you've had they go, it really comes to the of what you've done to say that you've had a career in the NFL.
Well for me I didn't really know any better. It wasn't really the aw factor of having those guys in the huddle. You really don't think about till after you've already played , you've been in for a few years and as you get older you get ready to retire then you look at it and go 'yeah I had some great teammates.' I have some guys that, that I had the opportunity to play with that are in the Hall of Fame, that people are touted as being the best of the best in what they did, that's the coolest part. But just to learn from those guys that were already in the league, how they studied film, how they prepared for the game. Taking all of those into consideration. Those were the coolest parts about it is you know saying 'I remember when mark dowell would come in and we'd go through film' you don't see him as a guy that everybody's held as hey he did excellent, you just see him as one of your teammates. That's the cool part about it.
Well of course I think the one that really stands out was the one that set the tone for everything was first of all our first training camp, going against Minnesota. Basically that defensive line that we faced at that point sort of opened my eyes to where I needed to get as a professional athlete to be able to perform at a higher level. And then the game would have to be basically going into the playoffs and winning and winning in the stadium that my first start was at that we lost real big at the beginning of the season and that was going down and beating in the playoffs. That was I think one of the most dramatic games that we had throughout the year. We had the big game talk, nobody really gave a big speech before the game and in the middle of the game, you have a big speech on the middle of the field. Those kind of things that stick in your head like 'man this is real serious. This is what it's like' Also how having those plays maybe the week before that an old veteran saves you on a I cant say maybe a missed assignment but a blocking assignment that you knew you were trying to do and the other guy was better than you on that play. Those are things that you remember because that veteran won't ever let you forget. 'hey you remember that time I saved your butt on that play?' 'man yeah I know, I know, I went inside the guy wnet outside and you saved me over the top, I appreciate it'
O well that's a Tim Grunhard story. If you get Timmy to ever talk about it, it was one of the most entertaining speeches I have ever seen in my life, especially in the middle of a football game where we're down by points and he's giving the speech about hey I want to win one for this, I want to do that. He tells a little bit about himself and where he's from and how he wants to go ahead and get this game done. You gotta dig down deep and get this down and it was one of those things where you're going 'this only happens in movies right?' that's what's really cool about it because now you can look at it and you see the movies where the coaches are giving the big speech or the kid on the field if giving a big speech and some people are having to look around, I'm looking around thinking 'yeah that actually did happen'
If I make it: Awesome
It's a good honor to be on that list; if I get in, that's awesome and if I don't, it's okay. It still doesn't tarnish anything that's been done over the 14 years of my career, so, it's still a positive thing.
Once you get through your career and look back at what you've done, that's when some of those things start coming to fruition that yeah, I get an opportunity to get on the ballot of the Hall of Fame.
You sit and ask yourself, 'Are my numbers good enough? Did I perform well enough?'; you don't know and in my mind, I look at numbers and I'm like, 'Yeah, I have a good shot' and then when you get on the ballot, you're like 'Yeah, I have a real good shot' and then you look at the competition and you're going, "Wow, the competition is stiff; there are a lot of great guys that have played and had great careers on the field and some of them had great careers off the field. All I can say is I put my best foot forward and did everything I could possible on the field and off the field, but that wasn't really the goal in mind.
The goal in mind was to be the best teammate, the best player, to always end up in the top-tier of what I did and then everything else falls into place after that. That's sort of the way I looked at my career, every day I stepped on the field; I wanted to be the best player I could be, on that day, and then after that, whatever happens, happens. I can't control anything beyond that. I can control my little space, helping out my tackle or helping out my center or those kind of things and beyond that, I really can't control the other pieces. It's really different and unique .
"It is what it is" I've done what I can do and you sort of let the chips fall where they may.
Well I would have to say the building the bridges of different groups her in KC has to be one of those spectacular things because not every player can or will do it and that's what made it unique to be able to say that you are the Walter Payton Man of the Year as well as the Walter Camp Man of the Year. Those are two big awards that are very I shouldn't say tough to come by but they are. You have to do a lot of good things outside of the community, in the community, off the football field to get that done and that's why I say those awards aren't mine. Those are Kansas Citys awards because without the support of the community I can only do so much but to be able to say hey the community supported a lot of the programs and a lot of things that were put together, that's what makes it also unique.
There are a lot of people that put a stamp on my life and my career. As far as a DNA point, of course my mom and dad; they put a lot into me as far as telling me right and wrong and everything else and then I had a community of people in Lawton, Oklahoma that basically kept me out of trouble and harms way and cultivated the piece of taking care of other people and doing different things. Then the mentality piece of it of being around (Nebraska) Coach Tom Osborne and Coach Teniper and groups like that and then coming into the pros and having, all the different coaches you had and different people have put different pieces of your life together.
It's been a lot of different people and a lot of different things and scenarios that have helped put me in the perspective. Even my high school English teacher that told me' hey they're going to tear you a part in college because of the different kind of school work.' You have to have that. You sort of take that as a challenge. There's been a lot of challenges, as well as the other extremes of saying 'Hey you did a good job and part of it is 'Hey ,you're not doing a good enough job. You need to figure out what it is and what you're going to do'. You sort of take it as it comes.
When you get drafted in the third round and you won the outlet and you sort of take that as, 'Okay, the Outland Trophy is a great trophy and it's for the best interior/exterior lineman, but it's not counted as being the best of what the NFL needs. So for me, it was the proof in the pudding. The 32 teams that passed on me, it was opportunity to prove to them that I was worthy of being where I needed to be. That probably worked into the advantage of me being a person as saying you know what, maybe my game was good enough for college but maybe ti's not good enough for the pros yet I wanted to prove to them that I could get there. I could do things that needed to be done to be considered one of the best at what you do. All those little things you take into consideration, putting chips on your shoulder, and other things like tearing them down, being like hey your doing alright moving forward.
I've got a bunch of teachers that have done a lot of phenomenal things in my life. Being high school and middle school and that kind of thing and basically one of my offensive line coach from high school talked back and forth about different stuff.
I'm not really sure yet. That's sort of like anything else. I'm not sure where it's going to be or what you're going to say but if it happens, that's a cool thing. It's awesome. It gives us 11 Chiefs into the Hall of Fame, it's an honor to say I'm part of an elite group of people and as Art Shell used to say, I can put my autograph in ten letters and its indelible ink (Hall of Fame), that's pretty cool.
WILL SHIELDS - Guard - Kansas City Chiefs (1993-2006) 14 seasons, 224 games
Selected by Chiefs in 3rd round (74th player overall) of 1993 draft … Placed into lineup in first NFL game after starting left guard suffered injury … Next week was inserted as starting right guard … Started every game from that point through retirement … Never missed a game during 14-season career, 224 games played, 223 starts are franchise records … As rookie helped Chiefs to an 11-5-0 mark and AFC Western Division crown, first division title for team since 1971 … Chiefs won four division titles and made six playoff appearances during Shields' career … Earned 12 straight Pro Bowl berths … Named first-team All-Pro in 1999, 2002, and 2003, picked as second-team All-Pro four times … Was All-AFC seven times including each of final six seasons … Chiefs led NFL in total yards gained in 2004 and 2005 and topped AFC in that category in 2003 … Led NFL in points scored in 2002 and 2003 highlighted by running back Priest Holmes' then-record 27 rushing touchdowns in '03 … In 1994, Chiefs offensive line established a franchise record allowing a mere 19 sacks … A member of the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 2000s … Joined Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Thomas in 1999 as only active players named to Chiefs' 40th Anniversary Team … Born September 15, 1971 in Fort Riley, Kansas. | Year of Eligibility: 3 | Bio/Career Stats>>>
Hall of Fame
Will Shields was the constant professional. He could have gone into banking. He could have gone into any number of other businesses and he would have brought this aura of professionalism to everything that he talked about, everything that he did and everything that he touched. He's a man of lot of emotion and heart for anyone I've ever been around. His career as a player speaks for itself; he is one of the finest players I ever had the privilege of coaching.
Will is a very, very bright guy. I don't want to saw aloof cause that's night the right word, you find a better adjective to describe him, but he had this ability as he interacted with his teammates and with the coaching staff and even to some degree with the fans in Kansas City that spoke, 'I'm a professional and I'm called upon to do things that others may not have the skills to do but I'm going to do the very best with the skill set I have and I believe it will be good enough for us to get done the things that the Kansas City Chiefs are trying to achieve."
"He was very highly-respected by all of his teammates the staff and everybody in the organization and at every turn and every opportunity, when he was met with a challeng, e Will found a way to move through it, whether it was coming off of injury or coming off a play in the game or whatever, Will Shields was an outstanding player and more importantly, he is an outstanding person."
To have the career Will had, you have to play at a very, very high level, a high standard. Playing at the interior, in the line, it's not a very highly-publicized position to play. You'd walk into the locker room, before a game, a number of guys would be chatting to one another about this and that and Will's sitting there by himself making sure that he knew that he was prepared to do whatever he was going to be called upon to do. And, as a great a player as he was, in my opinion, I've never been around a finer young man or player. I mean he's in the class with Derrick Thomas as a player, skillset-wise, and a terrific, terrific young man.
"I made some reference at some point I said, 'Hey, they don't pay us to play half a game; they pay us to play a whole game and we've got the opportunity to do that' and I don't generally like to make references to competition in football but at the end of the day we had to opportunity to do it and we had a half left to do so; let's go do it."
"Well-deserved," Szott said. "He's accomplished everything his position can accomplish, during his playing career. He was a consistent competitor, who continued to improve each and every year to surpass the level that he played the year before; it was amazing. It wasn't a matter of if, it was just a matter of when this would occur."
It was 1993, we opened up against Tampa Bay (Buccaneers), it was the first year Joe Montana was with us, and I sustained an MCL injury, I was the left guard and a guy named Danny Davilla was the right guard and Will was a rookie, backing us both up. He was a very talented, soft-spoken kid out of Nebraska and he had a good training camp, but as you know Will, he's very soft-spoken and unassuming and he was a very young, young player. So, I go down in that game, they insert Will for me and he did very well in my absence and I think I missed two games and when I came back, he had played so well, that they bumped him over to right guard, when I came back in at left. It was a joy to be part of an offensive line with him for the next eight years toether.
LS OG We picked up out of Arizona
He was one of the most-athletic guards that I had ever seen and especially in space; his ability to pull, run, adjust in space was the best that I had ever seen. His recoverability, there were times in practice and in games, he look like he was beat, almost like when you see a cat playing with a mouse; the cat lets the mouse get away long enough that he thinks he's gone, but the cat is so quick that he just takes care of business, and that was will. On film, you can actually see that at times he it looked like he was cleanly beat, but he was so quick, so athletic that he was able to recover so quickly, with his balance and athleticism; it was amazing to me. If I put myself in those situations, I wouldn't have been able to recover; I had to keep everything in sight to limit my chances of failure. He had the ability to adjust and recover like nobody I had ever been around.
Anytime you have a combination of great player with great person, that individual makes a great teammate and that's what Will was. Personally, I've known him long enough, both him and his wife, I saw what kind of person he is and the character that he maintains, and as much as the fans and public know him as the player on the field, he is that much more of a quality person off the field.
Not only his charitable events, but to open his home to another child TRENT GREEN
- Will was incredible, you know he was a guy who showed up to work everyday. He was a true pro. A guy who you knew that would get everything out of him mentally everyday, in terms his of preparation during the week of practice, his approach to practice everyday, his work ethic coming out on the field. You know it's unparalleled. To reach the level of success that he did makes a lot of sense when you consider not only the God given talent that he has, but also you know how hard of a worker he was. And how important it was to him to be the best.
- Well the thing about the interior part of the line is necessarily as an offensive tackle, you don't want to be beat on the inside, you wanna, if anything you're gonna be beat around edges, so the quarterback has the ability to step up. If the quarterback doesn't have the ability to step up, if the interior part of the line is, you know, is shaky by any means. That was the one thing, you know, about Will; you didn't have to worry about that. You knew he was going to lock his guy down and not prevent that pocket to collapse. From a passing game standpoint, you know, that is a big deal to know you have that kind of security, stepping up in there. And then in the running game, his ability, his mobility, I guess his ability to get to the outside, you know you can have the strength like he had to do the drive blocks, but it takes a special player to be just as good on the inside as he is pulling around and getting out in space and blocking people on the outside as well.
- Well To me, if he is overlooked, it would be just a shame, I mean. I believe, you know, he is a first ballot guy that obviously didn't take place. And now he has to wait a couple years. I think in some point in time, he will definitely get in. I think he can continue to overlook what he did in his career. When you look at the offenses that he was a apart of. When you look at the running backs that he blocked for; the quarterbacks that he blocked for. Some of The accomplishments of the offenses that he was on. You can't overlook that. And then you get to the individual accomplishments. When you look at his record number of his pro bowls. The record number of consecutive pro bowls. And the fact that he was the Walter Payton NFL Man of the year for his on the field and off the field commitment. He definitely will get in at some point in time, and it doesn't make any sense if he's not in at this point.
- You know, first off, I'm gonna be happy for Will, happy for his family. You know, we got to know all of them over the course of playing with them for six years. Living here in Kansas City with them. I'll be as happy as can be just like I was when Willie Roaf when he went in. You know, it's just an incredible honor. When you play as long as Will did. It's a sense of accomplishment. You know, not that you need any sort of confirmation, but when you get that confirmation, it's something you can carry with great pride. And I know it will mean a lot to Will. He's not a guy that shows a lot of emotion, good, or bad, but I know it will mean a lot to him just because he was prideful in the way that he approached the work everyday. And I'm sure he is prideful in the body of work that he put together in over the length of his career. And it's something that, you know, very deserves. So I'll be extremely happy for him.
- You know, it was a dramatic turnaround on all fronts. And I think that the organization, the city, everybody should take a great deal of pride. And Andy Reid, him coming in here, you know, really changed the attitude of the locker room, changed the attitude of the building. The approach that the players had, the approach that the staff had. I'm thinking in direct correlation to what Andy Reid was able to accomplish in really short period of time. When you consider, you know, all the changes that were made in the offseason, the changes that were made to the staff and personnel. But then also from the player's standpoint. Getting them all to buy in to the new philosophy, getting them to buy into his new system. And having a turnaround as quickly as he did. He is more than deserving for NFL coach of the year. From Jamaal's standpoint. The only thing I can see Jamaal, holding Jamaal back from getting more awards, than he already has, and he will continue to get, is the type of numbers that Peyton Manning put up, so if it wasn't for Peyton Manning just shattering a bunch of NFL records, you know, I think Jamaal would be in line to have even more honors that what he has already achieved this season or this past seasons. So Jamaal put together a tremendous year. He was exciting to see him getting involved in ways other that just the running game. I though he adapted very well into his role as a receiver. And I though it was a nice transition for him in one that will continue to be good for him because instead of taking the physical pounding of just running the ball, it will get him to open space as a receiver. And be to hopefully have a longer career. And then with Alex. I got to know Alex a little bit prior to him getting here. I got to know him a little bit better during preseason games, but I have a tremendous amount of respect for him, the resilience that he showed, the hard work that he showed, the character that he showed. You know when you look at what he went though early in his career in San Francisco and ultimately what he went through late in his career with San Francisco dealing with the injuries, losing the starting spot, once he got back healthy. Having to be on the sidelines for a team that made it to the Super Bowl. You have to be a mentally tough person to be able to deal with those kinds of things. You have to be able to persevere through a lot of not only the physical part of it, but the emotional part of it. And then you put in the fact that he gets traded and has to go a new city, you know, he's a Dad, he's got young kids , he's got a wife, there's a lot that goes into that. Its' just not, "oh I'm going to a new team," and an offensive I have to learn. There's a lot of transition there not only from a football aspect, but from a family aspect. He carried it all with great character, and I'm tremendously proud of him and not only the success that he had and how he handled everything.