Shields shares stories on Hall of Fame NFL career

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In football, the offensive lineman does everything he can to protect the quarterback.
Former Husker, Kansas City Chief and pro football hall of famer Will Shields has done that his whole life.
Surely not the same situation last week, but Shields stepped up to the mic for a quarterback instead of blocking for him.
The former Outland Trophy winner was in Grand Island to speak at the ACE Summit and 2020 annual meeting of the Aurora Cooperatives at the Pinnacle Bank Expo Center at Fonner Park Feb. 11.
Shields took the place of fellow hall of famer Terry Bradshaw, and did so masterfully with stories of football and family.
Sporting the signature gold hall of fame jacket and ring, Shields share stories from the gridiron that caught people’s attention.
“I was one of those kids that had an ego problem,” Shields said. “I would be watching pro football — and I’d watch good with my mom who was a Dallas Cowboy fan, that’s where my roots are -- and I’d be like, ‘Oh yeah, that guy’s good, but I could block him.’ I mean, I was like 6 years old talking about how I could block that guy.”
Shields, a native of Lawton, Okla., first came to Nebraska for a football camp in high school. It was then he received an offer to play at Nebraska.
“There were 14 of us, and at that point I think six of us got offers that week that we were here at camp,” he said. “It is one of those things that was really cool and unique within itself to be able to say at that point somebody was looking at you at the next level, to give you an opportunity to basically change your life.”
Shields was also recruited by Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Tulsa and Arkansas. He said Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer had a unique recruiting pitch.
“He would basically say, ‘Hey, look at my rings, you can have one of these,”’ Shields said.
Cue the groans from Husker fans in attendance.
He played at Nebraska from 1989 to 1992, was a consensus first-team All-American his senior year and won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s top lineman.
However, those impressive accolades didn’t help when the NFL draft came along. He was the 74th pick in the 1993 draft behind 11 other offensive linemen. Only one of those became a hall of famer like Shields.
Sliding down the NFL draft boards motivated Shields throughout his professional career.
“I was angry. I was mad,” he said. “You know, I was a guy that won the Outland Trophy that was considered the best offensive lineman, the best interior lineman in (college), that kind of stuff.”
But Shields always enjoyed playing football, whether it was in high school, college or the NFL. He was an iron man in the league, but actually didn’t start the first game of his rookie year. He made his first start in the second game and went on to start 231 in a row over the next 14 seasons with the Chiefs.
Shields was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2003 for his work with the “Will to Succeed Foundation.”
His charitable work dated back to his days at Nebraska as his coach, Tom Osborne, was just starting up the TeamMates program while Shields was in college.
That had a big impact on Shields, who continues to give back to this day through his own foundation.
Once his playing days were over, Shields was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.
These days, Shields can still be found in the KC area. He owns fitness club in Overland Park, and was in Miami to see his beloved Chiefs win its first Super Bowl in 50 years.
He mentioned during his hour-long discussion that the one guy who always gave him fits was fellow hall of famer and undrafted free agent John Randle of the Minnesota Vikings.
“He did research on you,” Shields said. “He would know your kids name, your wife’s name. He would throw you to the ground and say, ‘Here, let me help you up. What, we’re not friends today?’”
As for the one player he didn’t like, he quickly answered with Bill Romanowski.
Add fire to the Chiefs-Raiders rivalry, please.
He did add, however, that he’s excited to see how the Las Vegas Raiders plays out and that going to Oakland back in the day was always circled.
During the question and answer portion, someone asked Shields if he won a national title at Nebraska.
“I didn’t win any, but I beat up on the guys that won it in ‘94, ‘95 and ‘97,” he said.
That had the crowd rolling. Maybe they should let linemen speak more often.
RICHARD RHODEN can be reached at sports@hamilton.net.

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