Will Shields was part of a unit as a player, and he deferred congratulations for his success in his Hall of Fame speech by thanking everybody who helped him get to where he is today.
“It’s an honor being named to the Hall of Fame,” Shields said. “Having those 10 letters added to your name. But it takes more than just yourself, it takes a village of people.”
He went on to say that nobody gets to the top by themselves.
“Each man and woman has an opportunity to impact human beings as they walk through life,” Shields said, before going on to thank every single person he could think of thanking. He thanked everyone from his high school coaches, to the man who ultimately gave him a scholarship, to all the coaches who were with him in the NFL, including Joe Gibbs.
“To coach Gibbs, who initially never wanted to draft me. In one year we were together, you created a belief that I could get the job done and do anything. I thank you for that,” Shields said.
He called Dick Vermeil a close friend to this day, and also named Jimmy Raye, Art Shell, Mike Solari and other coaches he wanted to thank, before moving on to his family. He spent the most time on his parents, saying his father is his mentor and someone he tried to emulate, and does even to this day.
Then he thanked “the boss lady,” his wife, thanking her for “putting up with me.”
“I know there’s a lot of people I didn’t get a chance to thank,” Shields said, wrapping up, “I apologize for those I didn’t get to mention. I’m standing here today because of each of you.”
Shields is as good as it gets when it comes to interior offensive linemen. He was named a first-team All-Pro three times (1999, 2002 and 2003), and was named to the second team four times (1997, 2004, 2005 and 2006). In addition to those seven All-Pro nominations, he made it to the Pro Bowl a total of 12 times, and was the league’s Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2003.
A third-round pick by the Chiefs in 1993, Shields was regarded as one of the steals of the draft at the time. He didn’t start his first career game, but when Dave Szott went down with an injury in that game, Shields stepped into a starting role and didn’t miss a single game for the next 14 years. He started 231 consecutive games (including playoffs), the second-longest active streak at the time after Brett Favre, and he went to the Pro Bowl every year from 1995-2006.