Ever the offensive lineman, Will Shields spent his speech of less than nine minutes giving credit to others for his 14-year career with the Kansas City Chiefs that culminated Saturday night with his enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Shields played guard for the Chiefs from 1993-2006 and reached the Pro Bowl in 12 of those seasons. He was a member of the Chiefs' great offensive lines of the early- and mid-2000s and the second of those players to reach the Hall of Fame, following tackle Willie Roaf.
"It takes more than just yourself," Shields said. "It takes a village of people. With me, it was truly a village because no one gets to the top by themselves. Someone had to push, prod and pull me to the next level, help me walk through the tough steps ...
"Each man and woman has an opportunity to impact a human being as they walk through life, and I'd like to tell you about the people who mentored me and offered me friendship and love unconditionally."
Shields proceeded to thank family members, including his father and deceased mother, his wife Senia and their children Sanayika, Shavon and Solomon. To the children he said, "You've always been my greatest motivation and inspiration."
Shields then mentioned some of the coaches who mentored him as a youth before moving on to his time with the Chiefs. He thanked the Hunt family and a trio with the Chiefs when he was drafted in 1993 -- general manager Carl Peterson, personnel director Lynn Stiles and assistant general manager Denny Thum -- "for giving me the opportunity to play on the greatest stage while providing me and my family an opportunity of a lifetime."
In the lightest moment of his speech, Shields mentioned Alex Gibbs, the offensive line coach when he joined the Chiefs, saying Gibbs "initially never wanted to draft me."
Then, switching tones, Shields said, "In the one year that we were together, you created a belief that I could get the job done and do anything."
Shields mentioned several other former Chiefs coaches, including Marty Schottenheimer, Gunther Cunningham and Dick Vermeil. He cited a former teammate, fellow offensive lineman Reggie McElroy, for being a mentor during Shields' rookie season, and hailed the many linemen he played with during those 14 seasons.
"This honor is for you because without you, there's nothing," Shields said. "You guys were my rock. You're the guys I went to war with every day and I loved every minute of it."
Shields finished with this: "I'm standing here being honored because of each of you. So when the opportunity presents itself in your life, choose to be the difference maker in this village. Thank you very much. Appreciate it."
As a rookie, Shields started his Will to Succeed Foundation in Kansas City, and it still goes strong today. The foundation supports programs for families and children and has impacted the lives of countless people through the years in Kansas City and beyond.