Will Shields appeared on SB Nation radio to discuss various subjects, including two of the Chiefs most popular players past and present.
When Tony Gonzalez takes the stage at the NFL’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony next month, he’s going to join a few others from that era of greatness in Kansas City who will be able to appreciate such a tremendous moment and achievement.
Fellow Hall of Famer Will Shields helped protect the quarterback long enough for Tony Gonzalez to enjoy some of the production that he did in K.C. as part of an offensive front that included another Hall of Fame entrant in Willie Roaf along with a player under further consideration in Brian Waters. Earlier this week, Shields appeared on SB Nation radio to discuss a number of subjects, including the immortalization of Gonzalez.
Shields sat down with host Alex Gold and opened up on a number of subjects. The entire interview is worth a listen as he explains the community’s love for Patrick Mahomes, his own playing career and much more. However it was his words about Gonzalez’s greatness that really stood out.
When asked when the team knew that Gonzalez was really going to be something special, Shields said there were flashes of potential, to be sure, but that his leap in his second season made all the difference.
"“Going into the second season is where you saw the growth. I mean, he had raw talent. He was doing certain things his first year. But going into his second year, we saw a lot of growth in him. We saw him do all kinds of amazing things.“Don’t get me wrong. He was really talented that first year. But once he got in there and used to everything, you saw the work ethic kick in, teh things he started to understand. He did pre-practice things and post-practice things and how he studied the game. You started to see that growth. Going into the second year was when he started to understand what it was like to be a true pro.”"
Shields’ remarks tell us a few important things. First of all, Gonzalez was as much of a professional off the field as he was on it. Shields’ own testimony, as well as the remarks of others, point to Gonzalez as an incredible committed performer who was attentive to his craft year-round. He was better because he was determined to be better. He was incredibly gifted, yes, but he was not going to coast at any point and it was a lesson he learned early on. Perhaps that gives us a glimpse into his ability to play for so many seasons.
In addition, Shields words serves as a lamppost for younger players wanting to move forward themselves in the NFL. Put in the time. Be a student of the game. Soak in the knowledge of those around you, including veteran players.
Then again, maybe we’re all grasping for reasons to explain how a player can be so successful for 17 seasons in a league that’s so brutal for so many. Even in his final season, Gonzalez was as productive as ever and it’s clear he could have easily enjoyed another season or three (or more if he’d pushed it). He was an amazing player and the Hall will honor him for his incredible on-field production and off-field dedication soon enough.