The bronze bust that will sit in the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a likeness of Will Shields.
But in Saturday evening’s induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, the former Chiefs guard gave the important people in his life all the credit for his spot with the Hall’s class of 2015.
“It’s an honor being named to the Hall of Fame to have those 10 letters added to your name,” opened Shields in his acceptance speech that ran a few seconds over eight minutes. “But it takes more than just yourself; it takes a village of people. And with me, it was truly a village.”
Starting with influential folks in his hometown of Lawton, Okla., through high school, college at the University of Nebraska and then into pro football with the Chiefs, Shields thanked them for their help in his journey to a 14-year career in the National Football League.
“No one gets to the top by themselves,” Shields said. “Someone had to push, prod and pull me to the next level. I will be forever grateful. Each man and woman has the opportunity to impact human beings as they walk through life. I’d like to tell you about the people who mentored me, and offered me friendship and love.”
Long-time friend Adrian Lunsford presented Shields for his induction, helping him unveil the bust that will mark his career at the Hall of Fame. From there, Shields thanked his brother and sister and then walked his way through his youth in Oklahoma, then his time at Nebraska and finally into the NFL.
“To Carl Peterson, Lynn Stiles, Denny Thum and the Hunt Family,” Shields said, “thanks for giving me the opportunity to play on the greatest stage while providing me and my family with an opportunity of a lifetime.”
Shields then thanked former Chiefs offensive line coach Alex Gibbs, who was not in favor of drafting the Nebraska guard in 1993. He went on to thank Marty Schottenheimer, Jimmy Raye, Gunther Cunningham, Art Shell, Mike Solari, Mike Stock, Dave Redding, Jeff Hurd, Billy Long and “Coach (Dick) Vermeil, who has remained a close friend,” he said.
“To my fellow offensive linemen, this honor is for you,” Shields said. “Without you, there’s nothing. You guys were my rock, the guys that I went to war with every day and I loved every minute of it.”
He gave particular credit to former Chiefs tackle Reggie McElroy, who spent just one season with the team, but that happened to be Shields’ rookie season.
“Thank you brother for mentoring me and getting me ready because you never knew when you would get the chance to start,” said Shields.
Finally, he thanked the most important contributors to his career, his family and started with his father Will Shields II who was in Fawcett Stadium for the ceremony.
So were his children: daughter Sanayika who just graduated from Drury University with a degree in biology, son Shavon who became the first University of Nebraska basketball player to receive Academic All-America status and his youngest Solomon, who is still in high school.
Of his wife Senia, he called her “one of the greatest teammates in life” and thanked her for all the sacrifices she has made for him and the family.
“I’m standing here being honored because of each of you,” Shields said in his conclusion. “So when the opportunity presents itself in your life, choose to be a difference maker in this village.”
Shields was the fourth inductee Saturday evening, with former general manager Ron Wolf, defensive end/outside linebacker Charles Haley and center Mick Tingelhoff coming before him.