It was disappointing that former Chiefs guard Will Shields failed to garner much support in the Pro Football Hall of Fame balloting last Saturday, but here is a promise.
Shields will get in. Probably next year.
As Kansas City’s representative on the Board of Selectors, I made a pretty good case for Shields beyond his 223 consecutive starts, his 12 Pro Bowls and his NFL Man of the Year award.
What is said in the meeting is supposed to stay in the meeting room, but I can say I stressed
what I wrote in Saturday's Star
, that Shields excelled in multiple offenses with the Chiefs — the West Coast offense with Joe Montana; a power-running game when Gunther Cunningham and Herm Edwards coached the team; and in the wide-open Coryell system installed by Dick Vermeil when the Chiefs were the best offense in football, and players like Priest Holmes (NFL rushing champion, 27 TDs, Larry Johnson, AFC rushing champion with 1,750 yards), Tony Gonzalez and Trent Green.
But this was just an unusual class in that you could argue the three best players of the 15 modern-day candidates on the board were the three offensive linemen. All three were not going to get in.
Offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden was a slam dunk. He was one of the best of all time, an 11-time Pro Bowler, a Super Bowl champion and blocked for a 2,000-yard rusher. Larry Allen, considered the best guard of his era, got almost as much support as Ogden. He was an 11-time Pro Bowler, Super Bowl champion and member of the both the all-decade teams of the 1990s and 2000s.
So once that was established, the committee looked closer at other candidates, and Shields, in his second year of eligibility, didn’t crack the top 10, as he did last year in his first year of eligibility.
(The two Senior Candidates, including former Chiefs nose tackle Curley Culp, were voted on and selected separately.)
Sometimes it just takes time for players to get in (just ask Cris Carter), and offensive linemen are especially tricky. Willie Roaf had to wait a year. Randall McDaniel, Dermontti Dawson, Randall McDaniel and Russ Grimm had to bide their time.
The good news for Shields is because Ogden and Allen got in this year, the path will be clear for him next year. And it will happen.