Will Shields Enshrinement speech
Wow, where to begin? I'd like to thank Adrian for those kind words. A great video. It sort of gets you pumped up ready to come out and do a lot of different things. But, you know, it's an honor being named into the Hall of Fame, to having those 10 letters added to your name, but it takes more than just yourself, it takes a village of people. And with me, it was truly a village, because no one gets to the top by themselves. Someone had to push, prod and pull me to the next level, help me walk through the tough steps and be forever grateful.
Each man and woman has an opportunity to impact a human being as they walk through life. And I'd like to tell you about the people who mentored me and offered me friendship and love unconditionally.
To Adrian and Tobias, my older brother, Pat, thank you for pushing me out of the box and seeing my talent when I didn't see it myself. For my sister, Sharon, she's not here tonight, for helping me expand my horizons. People used to think twice when at that point you had a 260-pound man break out into song with show choir and jazz choir in the school plays and different things of that nature. Yes, I'm a drama kid. That's what we like to do, sing, and dance and have fun.
To one of my first coaches, Mr. Ortiz, I'll always remember you. He was one of the guys that actually first provided us with our first jersey that ever had our name on the back, and of course, we had to buy the letters. So I had a paper route, so I could only afford two letters, so I had JR on the back, Jr., but I still have it to this day. It's hanging up on my wall, and I cherish that for all time because it's so special.
To Coach Madden for teaching me how to study the game and being a long time friend. And his wonderful wife, Linda, for always knowing when a lineman needs a little comfort food. Chocolate chip cookies, baby, it always works.
To Coach Proctor, for seeing the way beyond single test scores, and affording me the scholarship. Without your expertise and wisdom this moment would not be happening today. To my Lawton State championship team, I think every moment there is not a moment that passes that "HANTA YO" isn't present in my life. I know my wife is tired of hearing of the videos and all the film and everything of that nature.
To Coach Tenopir who gave a young 17 year old man a chance to dream of a lifetime. I will forever be grateful.
To Coach Young for making the effort to recruit in Oklahoma. I'll always remember your kindness and your humor. There will forever be a Coach Young story to tell.
To Carl Peterson, Lynn Styles, and Denny Thum, and the Hunt family for giving me the opportunity to play on the greatest stage, while providing me and my family an opportunity of a lifetime.
To Coach Gibbs who initially never wanted to draft me, in one year that we were together you created a belief that I could get the job done and do anything. I thank you for that.
To all my other coaches in the NFL who pushed me, and basically I'm in debt to you for helping me to reach all my goals, and continue prodding me to get better. In no particular order, Coach Schottenheimer, Jimmy Ray, Gunther Cunningham, Art Shell, Mike Solari, Mike Stock, Dave Redman, Jeff Hurd, Billy Long, and of course, Coach Vermeil, who has remained a close friend.
To my fellow offensive linemen, this honor is for you, because without you, there is nothing. You guys were my rock. You're the guys that I went to war with every day, and I loved every minute of it. And of course, it started with a nice older man named Reggie. Reggie McElroy, I know you're out here somewhere. Thank you, brother, for actually there he is. Thank you for mentoring me my rookie year, baby, and getting me ready, because you never knew when you got a chance to start. Which also started with, of course, "The Firm," Dave Szott, Tim Grunhard and Shields, which it changed pieces after a while, and it became Wiegman, John Tait, Brian Waters, Kendall Gammon, and Trent Green, and my draft classmate and fellow Hall of Famer, Willie Roaf.
Congrats to my fellow classmates of 2015, and now I must move on to the family. To my family, where do I start? Sanayika, Shavon and Solomon, you've always been my greatest motivation and inspiration. Sanayika, I'm so proud of you, of the young woman you've become and how you've dealt with adversity, and recently graduating with a biology degree in four years, while playing college hoops. That's amazing. You're smart, intelligent, caring and strong willed. Our father daughter trips will forever be in my heart.
To Shavon, I'm also proud of you and your accomplishment. Nebraska's first basketball Academic All American in biology. You’re caring, hard work and leadership, I love the way you analyze the world.
To Solomon, the young man of the family. I am so proud of you and your tenacity, intelligence, whit and creativeness and thinking outside of the box. One year left in high school and then you start blazing your path into college, and I look forward to what you create in the film world. I'm so proud of you.
To my father, Will Shields II. Military man, appreciate that. Love you guys. My dad actually gave up some time. He went and did a couple of tours overseas and basically left us there to graduate so that we can grow up and try to get our aspirations in school. I really appreciate your sacrifices. You're definitely my mentor and the person I try to emulate with a lot of different things, sir. I appreciate it. I love you.
Mom, I know you're with us in spirit, and I miss you, and I know you're actually looking down upon us, and I love you.
To last but not least, the boss lady, my wife. Thank you for being there to raise our kids, support our family, and putting up with me. I have one of the greatest teammates in life, and I love you for all the sacrifices you made. I know there are a lot of people I didn't get a chance to thank.
But I want to thank everyone for being here today, and I apologize for those I didn't get to mention, and I'm standing here today being honored because of each of you. So when the opportunity presents itself in your life, choose to be the difference maker in this village. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.