Offensive guard Will Shields of the Kansas City Chiefs, one of the NFL's most celebrated blockers of this era on the field and most honored philanthropists off it, has decided to retire from the NFL after 14 seasons.
A 12-time Pro Bowl performer and certain candidate for Hall of Fame honors, Shields made the announcement of his retirement on his Web site on Sunday evening.
"The love for the game never decreased but, as the years passed, the physical requirements of the game became harder to fulfill each and every day," Shields wrote on the site. "If it was up to me I would play football forever but, as we all know, that is unrealistic."
Shields, 35, has been a fixture for the Chiefs at right guard and a leader in the Kansas City community since the team selected the former Nebraska star in the third round of the 1993 draft. He is the longest-tenured player on the Kansas City roster and his 224 appearances and 223 starts are franchise records.
In 14 seasons, Shields never missed a game, and he failed to start only one contest, his first regular-season outing, as a rookie in 1993. He is one of only four NFL players since the merger in 1970 to start more than 200 straight games.
Shields has appeared in 12 straight Pro Bowl games and his 224 regular-season games are more than any of the seven modern-era guards currently in the Hall of Fame.
As notable an impact as Shields has made on the field, where he is regarded as one of the premier in-line blockers in modern league history, his accomplishments outside of football are just as laudable.
As a rookie, Shields and his wife, Senia, established the "Will to Succeed Foundation." The foundation's Web site defines its purpose as "inspiring, guiding and improving the lives of abused, battered and neglected women and children."
The foundation, and numerous other charitable efforts helped earn Shields the NFL's prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year honor in 2003. Shields and his wife have garnered considerable recognition in other quarters as well for the lives they have affected.
Shields has flirted with the notion of retirement in the past, notably a year ago, and he sat out most of the Chiefs' offseason conditioning program as he deliberated his future. After much thought, Shields returned to the team and enjoyed another standout season.
He has three seasons remaining on his contract, at base salaries of $1.2 million (for 2007), $1.59 million (2008) and $1.98 million (2009). Shields becomes the second potential Hall of Fame offensive lineman to retire from the Chiefs in the last two years. Tackle Willie Roaf, a 11-time Pro Bowl performer, retired last year.
"I am looking forward to a future filled with sports in mind," Shields wrote. "Whether it is in the stands, on the sideline, in the press box or in a office -- football will remain in my blood."
By Len Pasquarelli