CANTON, OH - AUGUST 6: Fans wait to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame prior to the induction ceremony on August 6, 2011 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Will Shields and Willie Roaf are among 17 candidates that will find out on Saturday whether or not they'll be inducted into this years' NFL Hall Of Fame class.
You ask any Chiefs fan about the early 2000's and you'll hear stories of offensive prowess with Trent Green, Priest Holmes and Tony Gonzalez. You might even have a few that talk about the offensive line that was so clearly dominant that it didn't matter if it was Priest Holmes or some schmuck off the street that was running the ball. This was due largely in part to the beef up front.
It's no coincidence that the Chiefs led one of the best offenses in the entire NFL for several years while employing one of the greatest offensive lines that has ever played together. So when you look at 2 of the 17 candidates for induction into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame this weekend you'll notice two players from that offensive line, Will Shields and Willie Roaf. Shields and Roaf were two of the key pieces of what made that offense so special, and it's about time they get the spotlight put on them.
It's not a secret around Kansas City and to those who follow football closely to realize what kind of player Will Shields was for the Kansas City Chiefs. He was a 12-time Pro Bowl selection as he made it every year from 1995-2006. He was a nine-time All Pro and even won the "Walter Payton Man Of The Year" award in 2003 for his charity work with his foundation, "Will to Succeed" in the Kansas City area. He also never missed a game for the Kansas City Chiefs, ever.
Willie Roaf spent four seasons in Kansas City from 2002-2005 after being traded by the New Orleans Saints to the Chiefs after the 2001 season. Roaf made the Pro Bowl in each of his four seasons in Kansas City and tallied 11 Pro Bowls in all. Not too bad for the guy brought in to protect your quarterbacks blindside.
But when you look at the current Chiefs and the issues they currently have on the offensive line it makes you want to figure out how to emulate the kind of success those early 2000's teams had on offense and you realize that it starts with the beef up front. The Chiefs had the success they did on offense because they had two HOF-caliber offensive lineman on the same team. Brian Waters and Casey Wiegmann weren't slouches either as they made up 2/5 of the rest of the line. It's always flashy to look at the play-makers and the guys on SportsCenter every week, but it's the beef up front making it happen, and these guys made it happen on a regular basis. Shields came to the Chiefs via the University of Nebraska with the 3rd round pick in 1993, while Roaf was traded for nine years later. There's several ways to build an offensive line and the Chiefs had it figured out back then,
The Chiefs find themselves most likely looking at an offensive lineman with their first draft pick this year and while you obviously can't expect every pick to work out as well as a Will Shields or for every trade to work out like a Willie Roaf, the fact that it's happened before always makes you optimistic that it could happen again. These two legends of the game will always be remembered and revered for what they did in Kansas City almost a decade ago, and the generation of Chiefs fans that were lucky enough to see them play together will always tell stories of an offensive line that paved the way for anyone and everyone for several years in the red and gold.