Local Gridiron Hero – Will Shields – Named To NFL Hall of Fame [VIDEO]
Growing up in Lawton, Oklahoma, Will Shields called 35th street home. But as of this past weekend, Shields has a new home in Canton, OH. The former University of Nebraska and Kansas City Chief guard was named to the National Football League Hall of Fame on Saturday, after a 14-year NFL career that saw the former Lawton Wolverine spent his entire professional career in Kansas City, starting 231 straight games and appearing in a team record 12 straight Pro Bowls from 1995 to 2006.
Shields grew up in a military family in Lawton, a family that fought to keep him from being another statistic in what at the time, was a city with the highest crime rate per capita in the United States. At the time, Lawton High had the highest number of free or reduced lunch eligible students of the city's three High Schools.
Shields was one of the fortunate ones. He had a strong family life, which included an older brother who taught him about football and a sister that taught him about music. He had two strong parents who not only taught him right from wrong, but were there for him as a constant reminder of that lesson. Even while his father was stationed overseas, he insisted the family remain in Lawton to keep their roots strong. Young Will spent his days riding bikes with friends at Harold Park, known to the kids who frequented the area as Bicycle Park. He also had his very first taste of the sport that would lift him up at this very park. And while he didn't grow up rich, he grew up rich in character.
Lawton was a rough place to grow up. Shields lifted himself, and was lifted up by playing football. He knows, probably better than others, he was one of the lucky ones. He made it out. He also knows that many others who didn't make it out...or make it all. Shields understands that not everyone was as fortunate as he was, to be born with the gifts and tools to make it pro ball. He understands the very thin line between himself and those he knew growing up.
This weekend, Will Shields was honored as one of the greatest offensive linemen in NFL history. But in Lawton, he is remembered as one of the greatest humanitarians and philanthropists the city has ever known. In 2003 he was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year by the NFL; his Will To Succeed foundation has helped thousands of battered and abused women. He is well known in Kansas City for providing for kids at a local mental health facility. And his foundation has providing funding for countless needy kids to get a college education.
Will Shields is far beyond the number 68 he wore for the Cornhuskers and Chiefs. He is a man who remembers where he came from, how he got there and those that weren't as fortunate. Will Shields was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011, the Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame in 2012 and on Saturday was welcomed into the National Football League Hall. But long before those honors, he was a Hall of Fame human being, an honor he continues to bestow upon others to this day.
Read more in the Kansas City Star