Will Will Be In Hall? … Sunday Cup O’Super Bowl

From Indianapolis, Indiana

As soon as I saw the agenda for the meeting of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Board of Selectors for Saturday, I knew it was going to be difficult for Will Shields to reach the Hall in his first season of eligibility.

Thus, I knew it was only a matter of time before I was once again labeled an idiot.

“Hey Gretz, how did you screw this one up?” read the first e-mail, less than 15 minutes after the 2012 class for the Pro Football Hall of Fame was announced and Will Shields name wasn’t part of the six-man class. “How can Will Shields not be a Hall of Famer?”

More followed Saturday night as former Chiefs tackle Willie Roaf, Jets-Patriots RB Curtis Martin, Seahawks DT Cortez Kennedy, Steelers center Dermontti Dawson, Vikings DE Chris Doleman and seniors DB Jack Butler were celebrating their entrance into the hallowed hall.

Those types of e-mails and comments are the only negatives that come with the duties of being a selector for the Hall of Fame. It’s an honor to be part of the process, but it isn’t always easy to comprehend or explain. Let me go over some old ground here in talking about why Shields ended up on the outside looking in.

Let’s start with this – it’s hard to get in the Hall of Fame. It should be. It’s the Hall of Fame – that means Hall of Great, Hall of Exceptional or Hall of the Best. It’s not the Hall of just OK, or Hall of Mediocre, or the Hall of Very Good. There’s nothing easy about navigating two preliminary votes and then three votes during selection Saturday.

This year was the first time Shields was eligible and first timers don’t often make it in their rookie years. Since 2000, there have been 20 players elected in their first-year. That’s 20 out of 74 spots.

There were 17 persons to be discussed during the meeting at the J.W. Marriott Hotel on Saturday, and through the bad luck of the draw, Shields was No. 17. As the man making the presentation for the former Chiefs guard, I knew that after haggling over 16 people, many on the 44-person committee would be very interested in moving on to the voting, rather than spending a lot of time discussion candidate No. 17.

Unfortunately, that proved to be true. There was minimal time spent on Shields. Actually, after my presentation on Shields, there was no discussion. The group moved on to the first vote slicing the modern-day nominee list from 15 to 10, and Shields was not on the list. It was an unfair turn of events for Shields, but it was largely just a matter of being unlucky.

The events of the day and the week leading up to the vote left little doubt in my mind that Shields will be in the Hall of Fame soon, maybe as quickly as next season. The board as a whole understands how talented he is and there are no arguments against him. With two offensive linemen making the Hall’s class of 2012, it clears out a log jam along the offensive line and moves Shields to the front of the queue. Joining the list of eligible players next year will be former Baltimore OT Jonathan Ogden; however the key was moving former Pittsburgh C Dermontti Dawson and former Chiefs-Saints LT Willie Roaf out of the way.

Roaf was presented in the No. 16 slot, but the edge the big man from Arkansas had was the fact he was in his second year as a finalist. Many were shocked when he did not make last year’s Hall class. That’s another good sign for Shields, who has credentials as good as Roaf and will be in his second season of eligibility next year when the vote is taken.

The key word is patience. That was the case with Derrick Thomas, who was eligible for five years before he gained his induction. A timeframe like that is not unusual. DT Buck Buchanan waited 10 years before his name came up. QB Len Dawson’s wait was seven years. MLB Willie Lanier waited four years and OLB Bobby Bell three. CB Emmitt Thomas got his bust in Canton 25 years after his career ended. Only K Jan Stenerud did not have to wait, as he was inducted the first year he was eligible.

Will Shields is qualified and will be a Hall of Famer and it will happen sooner rather than later.

5 Responses to “Will Will Be In Hall? … Sunday Cup O’Super Bowl”

  • February 5, 2012  - James says:

    Tough spot to be in Bob. Hope Shields makes it some day, what a great Chief he was.

  • February 5, 2012  - Blake says:

    Still nothing on Daboll?

  • February 5, 2012  - Milkman says:

    I remember the year Will Shields was drafted. He lasted til the 3rd round because nobody thought he could pass block at the same elite level as his run blocking. Thing is, Nebraska was pretty much a run only offense at the time. He’d just never been given a chance to show what he was capable of. Thank goodness he fell to us. I too think he will be in the hall. It is quite a testament to how good he was when you consider he was never played on a championship team, yet gets the respect that he does. It will be a proud day in Kansas City when they call his name to set with all the other championship caliber linemen.

  • February 5, 2012  - Johnfromwichita says:

    I doubt if Will really cares if he ever makes into the Hall. He was a great player, and even more, he was a great person. That’s far more important than a bust and a hanging jersey in a place where most people will never see. He only played for one team and only those fans will remember him. Go Will. Go Chiefs.

  • February 6, 2012  - Milkman says:

    Sorry, JFW. Can’t agree with you this time. He is a great person and he was a great player. But I don’t imagine you could name one professional athlete who wouldn’t be thrilled to be noted as one of the best to ever play his position. I do agree with you about one thing though- He will never be forgotten by any of us who had the pleasure of watching him play.

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