ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- At 32 years of age and about to begin his 11th NFL season, linebacker Derrick Johnson is among the oldest and most experienced of Kansas City Chiefs players. His younger teammates often seek him out for advice whether it be life lessons or technical football tips.
Johnson is always happy to oblige, recalling how a certain veteran offensive lineman did the same thing for him in 2005 when Johnson was the Chiefs’ first-round draft pick from the University of Texas.
“I try to talk to a lot of the young guys about being a professional, how to stay in the league, how to be accountable,’’ Johnson said. “When I do that, I think of Will Shields. He used to talk to me about those things.’’
Shields was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday following his 14-year career. Shields played all 14 seasons and every one of his 224 career games for the Chiefs.
Johnson and Colquitt each indicated Shields had a profound impact on his career.
Colquitt, like Johnson, joined the Chiefs in 2005. But he was a third-round draft pick and not a position player and was a rookie trying to find his place in a veteran locker room.
Shields was one of those veterans who helped him find it.
“Will Shields is one of those guys that treated everyone in the locker room as an equal,’’ Colquitt said. “He wanted to know how you were doing. He wanted to let you know what made him successful and how to get there. He didn’t treat me as a specialist. He treated me as another member of the defense that was important to set up our offense for good field position.’’
Johnson didn’t necessarily need Shields to help him find a home in the locker room. He did need a role model who knew how to reach across positional barriers to help a young player trying to establish himself in his professional career.
“A great teammate,’’ Johnson said. “He was a guy that took people under his wing and was always spitting knowledge. He didn’t always have a lot to say. But I remember Will being the guy that was always picking other guys up at practice if they were having a bad day. He’d put his arm around somebody and tell them to keep things positive so they wouldn’t lose their confidence.
“You didn’t have to be an offensive lineman to share his knowledge. He shared it with me, a linebacker. That was the best thing about it. I learned from the best."