Week 7 Submit a Question Q&A - Billy Shaw

01/01/2005

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Billy Shaw

Week Seven: Billy Shaw

Enshrined in 1999
(Georgia Tech)
GUARD 6-2, 258

1961-1969 Buffalo Bills

First player to spend entire career in AFL to be elected to Hall of Fame. . .Two-way collegiate player. . .Drafted by Cowboys (NFL) and Bills (AFL). . .Chose Bills to play on offensive line. . . Equally adept at pass blocking and run blocking. . .Driving force behind offensive unit that led Buffalo to back-to-back AFL titles in 1964, 1965. . . All-AFL five times. . .Named to eight All-Star games
. . .Born December 15, 1938 in Natchez, Mississippi.

Question & Answer with Hall of Famer Billy Shaw
October 25, 2001

Billy ShawMr. Shaw - you went up against a lot of great players during your career. Who would you say were the toughest guys to block? - Mark, New Jersey
BS: I'll have to start by all of them. The guy that gave me the most trouble was a defensive tackle from the Boston Patriots by the name of Houston Antwine. Houston was a tackle, was about six feet tall, weighed about 280 pounds, had a very low sense of gravity and was very quick. His first two or three steps or first moves were really quick, and he gave me the most trouble of any defensive tackle that I played in front of. In fact, the smaller tackle, although 280 pounds is not small, but he was considered small. Tom Keating from the Raiders was in that same mold. The big tackles, like Buck Buchanan or a Ernie Ladd didn't give me as much trouble as the smaller, quicker tackle like Houston.

Dear Mr. Shaw: What is your fondest memory of playing in Buffalo? - A fan in Lexington, Ohio
BS: Well, I guess I'd have to say the fans. People think that I'm crazy but I enjoyed the stadium that we had there. It was old and decrepit and all the adjectives that have been used are correct. But, it gave you a sense of intimacy because the fans were so close to you. And, in Buffalo, the fans when they purchased a season ticket they kept that season ticket. So, all of those folks that were behind our bench, as players we got to know their faces, not necessarily know their names; but we would know when they weren't at a game. And, I guess the closeness that the fans and the team had back during the '60s - it was a joy.

Billy, you played nine years in the American Football League. Which game do you treasure the most, and also how did your training camp battles with defensive lineman Tom Sestak help you to become a better player? -Matt Buffardi
BS: Well, the first part of that question - the game that I treasure the most, of course, was the first AFL championship that we brought to Buffalo - we played San Diego in Buffalo for the '64 championship. And that was the Bills' first championship - that game stands out today and of course I can remember plays in it and that's been many years ago. But, I replay that game sometimes because it was such a joy.
Tom Sestak was probably one of the greatest defensive tackles to play the game. I mentioned that a tackle by the name of Houston Antwine gave me trouble. Well, that was on game day. Tom Sestak was by far the best tackle that I ever played against. And we both came in close to the same time - I was a year ahead of Tom. But, he was a couple of years ahead of me as far as his ability to play the game. I learned to play the game from the best. If I could stand toe-to-toe with Tom, then I could stand toe-to-toe with anybody.

Billy, I heard a story that claims your rehab program for your broken leg included running the stairs at War Memorial Stadium. Is that true? - A Stadium Vendor
BS: Well, first of all I didn't have a broken leg; I had a knee injury - the ligament in my knee. And, that was part of my rehab was running the stands at Buffalo. Yes, I got to know each step, had a name for each step. And, that was my rehab.

Billy, Every week, as we watch the NFL, more focus has been put on the offensive linemen. Some linemen, like on the Denver Broncos are smaller, but quick and use technique to do their jobs. Others teams, like the Arizona Cardinals, have the bigger, stronger linemen that seem to work more on size alone. From your perspective, in today's game, which type of lineman is more effective? - Michael Alewine, Kansas City, Missouri
BS: Well, the rules have changed so it's kind of hard for me to give a definitive answer to the question. Because of the blocking change in the rules where today the hands and arms, and upper body are so important to the technique. I still think that the smaller, quicker offensive lineman has more to offer.

Mr. Shaw, The Bills went from doormats in the early part of the 1960's to AFL champions in 1964 and 1965. How did you as players establish a winning attitude to reach the pinnacle of success, and what can the Bills of 2001 do to learn from a dismal start? - Darrell E. Larocque, Virginia Beach, VA
BS: Well, I think we were fortunate enough in that we were a young franchise and the Bills drafted extremely well in '61, '62, '63 so we were there in the beginning together and we learned one another. And, I think that the teamwork that we excelled in - both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball - gave us the opportunity to win championships in '64 and '65. And, we were in that championship again in '66 and we tied for the Eastern Division title in '63 - so we had a four-year run there and very few people changed in the makeup of the team. So, I really believe that the ability to know who you could count on day in and day out, year in and year out meant a great deal. That was all before free agency and free agency today has destroyed a lot of the team concept.
An answer for the Bills today? I don't know that I have one except that they are a young team and if they're able to stay together for a number of years then they will reach that pinnacle again.

Billy ShawDear Billy, What did you think of Bob Kalsu, personally and professionally? I read the article about him in Sports Illustrated. How good was he in your perspective and what could he have been had he played out his career as a Buffalo Bill and not have gone to fight for the USA in Vietnam? - Bill Hoffman, Prineville, Oregon
BS: Well, personally my opinion of Bob Kalsu is very high. Talk about his character to begin with. He kind of set himself apart because he had such character strengths. And, his choosing to go to Vietnam did not surprise me at all because he was that kind of person. As a player, and we played the same position, I viewed him as a threat. And, I say that as a compliment because he was one of the few offensive lineman to come in as a rookie that I felt had the possibility of upsetting either me or the other guard - Joe O'Donnell - from our positions. He was a good team player and he had all the tools to play the game. And, if he had stayed in Buffalo, there's no question that he would at some point and time become a starter and would have been a star lineman for the Bills.

Billy, Describe the Jack Kemp/Daryle Lamonica relationship. How did it affect the chemistry of the team? - Terry Sheehan, USDOT Volpe Center DTS-49
BS: Well, the Jack Kemp-Daryle Lamonica - people call it a controversy but we didn't view it that way. They were two, entirely two, different players. Both had great leadership ability. There was a time and a place for both of them on the football field. I personally thought that Jack could do as much or more with the ball as any quarterback that played during that period. Daryle, on the other hand, was a very young quarterback when he was with us. He believed in himself tremendously and that kind of exuded into the attitude of the players around him. I dispute that there was controversy because there really wasn't, they complemented each other. Only those two guys can tell you how good of friends they might have been. But, they were good teammates to play with, both.

Hello Bill. You've played on the great Buffalo Bills teams of 1964 - 1965 & 1966. I think the Bills and one or two AFL teams could successfully compete in the NFL at that time, what is your opinion? Richard Hansen, Pt. Pleasant.
BS: Well, we'll never know because we didn't get that opportunity but I agree with you that our teams of '64 and '65 and '66, particularly the '64 team and possibly the '65 team - we felt that we could have competed with any team in football. And we did in the AFL and we felt the same way as far as the NFL teams. We were all basically the same age, same experience, and we were just brash enough to think that we could. And, with Cookie Gilchrist in our backfield, we felt that we could play the type of game that the NFL played and would have loved to have that opportunity.

Hall of Famer Q&A Archive

Week 1: Frank Gifford
Week 2: Lem Barney

Week 3: Willie Lanier
Week 4: Ken Houston
Week 5: Mike Ditka
Week 6: Paul Hornung


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