Pro Football Hall of Fame member was honored as a “Hometown Hall of Famer™” by Allstate and the Pro Football Hall of Fame during a very special ceremony at Vicksburg High School on Tuesday, April 16. Members of both the Vicksburg and Warren Central High School football teams, as well as the Vicksburg High School band, cheerleaders, and dancers gathered in the school’s gymnasium to welcome the Hall of Fame lineman back to his hometown. The excitement and enthusiasm from the community for the Vicksburg legend was electrifying.
Following the presentation of colors by the ROTC, the school’s acapella group, The Magdrigals, sang the National Anthem. Shaw was treated as southern royalty as he made his grand entrance through a tunnel created by some of the school’s student-athletes.
Vicksburg High School Principal Derrick Reed and Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Swinford both greeted attendees before welcoming Allstate agent Johnny Prewitt to the stage.
“On behalf of Allstate and all our agents in the Vicksburg area, I am privileged to help honor the legacy of the great and recognize Vicksburg High School with a hometown plaque and commemorative road sign here today,” Prewitt said.
Shaw’s former high school football coach, Gene Allen, presented Shaw with his special plaque and shared stories of his time coaching Shaw. He noted how Shaw’s character stood out to him before his playing abilities. “Before Billy began playing football, he came to me and told me that when he started playing next year, all he wanted to do was make his teammates, parents and the city of Vicksburg proud,” Allen recalled.
After the unveiling of the plaque, took the stage to recognized members of his church and his former high school football teammates in attendance before dedicating the plaque to the hometown that raised him. “This day is about you, about our city of Vicksburg and the people instrumental in my life as a young man,” Shaw said.
He offered some words of wisdom to the students in the audience, saying, “Whether or not you’re an athlete doesn’t really matter. It’s the kind of person you want to be that’s important.”
Shaw was a proven inspiration to the students as one boy was moved to tears from being able to meet Shaw and hear life advice while trying on his American Football League Championship rings.
Shaw finished his speech by thanking his wife and family, joking that he would never forget to do that again after his Hall of Fame induction. The ceremony concluded after Vicksburg Mayor Paul Winfield presented Shaw with a key to the city of Vicksburg.
Additional speakers at the ceremony included Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises Program Director Brock Richards. “Today’s plaque dedication forever links Vicksburg High School and the community of Vicksburg to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio,” Richards said. “It’s an honor to be here in Vicksburg to help celebrate the great in the community where it all began.”
Other notable attendees at today’s ceremony included Shaw’s former Buffalo Bills teammate Jim Dunaway as well as several members of Shaw’s high school football team including University of Mississippi football standout Richard Price.
In addition to the plaque, a commemorative “Hometown Hall of Famers™” road sign will be on display in Vicksburg.
An All-American lineman from Georgia Tech, Shaw was drafted by both the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League and the American Football League’s Buffalo Bills in 1961. Due to his strength, size and speed, Shaw signed as a guard with the Bills where he went on to become “the driving force of the offensive unit” according to his former offensive line coach Jerry Smith.
Shaw, equally adept at pass blocking and run blocking, was especially effective on short-yardage plays. He helped lead the Bills to win back-to-back AFL titles in 1964 and 1965 and was named a first-team All-AFL selection five straight seasons and a second-team All-AFL choice three times. The eight-time AFL All-Star Game selection was named to the All-Time AFL Team as well as pro football’s All-Decade Team of the 1960s.
Shaw was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999 as the first Hall of Fame member to spend his entire career in the AFL.
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