Will Shields deserves Hall induction

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Former Kansas City Chiefs guard Will Shields is a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the third time. He is competing with a strong group, so Shields may have to wait at least another year to get in.

But Shields deserves to be a Hall of Famer, whether it's this year or some time in the future.

Shields played perhaps the most unglamorous of positions, so he doesn't have any stats to prove his value. He also doesn't have any Super Bowl appearances or world championship rings, which leads me to my major complaint about the Hall and how its balloting is tilted toward those who happened to play on great teams.

Football is the ultimate team game, and more than in any other major sport, individual players and particularly linemen don't have the tremendous effect on winning and losing. But it certainly wasn't Shields' fault that the Chiefs never played in the Super Bowl during his 14 seasons. He certainly played to that level.

Shields never missed a game in those 14 years and was selected to play in the Pro Bowl 12 times. Those alone aren't reasons to put Shields in the Hall, but they're the only numbers linemen have.

Like any lineman, Shields was best appreciated by seeing him week after week, game after game, down after down. He was a key part of those great Chiefs offensive lines from the early and mid-2000s. Even if you don't appreciate watching offensive line play, you would have with that group. Alongside Willie Roaf, Brian Waters, Casey Wiegmann and John Tait, Shields was part of a line that was poetry in motion.

That may not be good enough for Shields. If he doesn't get into the Hall soon, his contributions will soon be lost in the fog of time and fade away.

Except to those of us who had the privilege of watching him game after game, play after play.