How a debut opportunity led to one of the most reliable football players in the history of the NFL.
When offensive guard Will Shields was selected in the third round of the 1993 NFL Draft, Chiefs Kingdom had their sights drawn to other new additions to the franchise.
Prior to the draft, the Chiefs would trade with the San Francisco 49ers to acquire quarterback Joe Montana. Two months later, the signing of running back Marcus Allen from the Los Angeles Raiders created a fresh optimism around the fanbase.
At the time, it would be near impossible to convince someone that the most important piece added going into the 1993 season was an interior offensive lineman from the University of Nebraska. But after his decade-plus career, few Chiefs fans that experienced Shields play would argue against his importance to the organization.
To begin the 1993 season, The Chiefs traveled to Tampa Bay to play the Buccaneers. During the game, Chiefs starting left guard Dave Szott suffered a knee injury.
Shields would play as the ‘next man up’ for the Chiefs, but no lineman would have to play that role to replace Shields throughout his entire career.
After his Week 1 performance, Shields would go on to start for the rest of the season. For that season and the rest of his career, Shields played a superhuman like role for the Chiefs.
Shields would never miss another game in his fourteen-year career. He started in 223 consecutive regular-season games, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Durability and toughness were not the only qualities he brought to the table. Shields showed the ability to perform any blocking assignment on the field needed to win.
Watching the mere highlights and glimpses from his career anyone can notice his incredible athleticism. The Chiefs were able to use that by pulling guard and using Shields in the open field for blocking.
Even more impressive is how Shields managed to commit few penalties. There were 18 penalties called against him during his twelve consecutive Pro Bowl selections, according to Pro Football Reference.
To only commit roughly one penalty a season, while playing every single game is greatness. Especially since Shields blocked at several levels of the field, not just the line of scrimmage.
The talent combined with disciplined blocking placed him in the highest regard for an offensive lineman. After his first two seasons, Shields would make the Pro Bowl every season after until his retirement, ending up with twelve straight selections.
Shields was named a First-Team All-Pro three times and was on the second team four times, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His performances week by week contributed largely to the Chiefs’ success in the early 2000s.
Running back Priest Holmes could have driven a Brink truck through some of the holes created by Shields and the rest of the offensive line. They played a key role in Holmes breaking the single-season record for touchdowns with 27 in the 2004 season.
The Chiefs honored Shields’ career by placing him in their ring of honor not even a decade after his career ended. His greatness earned him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the class of 2015.
Shields was a large contributor to competitive and run-dominant Chiefs teams. Despite offensive lineman not getting the credit they deserve, he was able to display his greatness by suiting up every week and performing at an All-Pro level.