Shields has high hopes


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Jan 22, 2006
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Shields has high hopes
Chiefs ‘on the cusp of greatness’

HONOLULU — If today is Will Shields’ last time in a football uniform, the future Hall of Famer isn’t acting like it.

Shields isn’t doing anything all that special to commemorate his 11th trip to football’s all-star weekend in paradise. Oh, sure, he’s having a good time, enjoying the fellowship with the game’s top players. But he isn’t documenting every moment, and he’s not measuring his words when asked about the possibility of retirement.

“I’ll know in a couple of weeks, maybe by March 3. Isn’t that the first day of free-agency?” Shields said to me early Friday evening at the Pro Bowl team hotel. “It all depends on my knees and back.”

There you have it. Will Shields — the 13-year Chiefs vet — wants to play another season. Barring leaving today’s all-star classic in pronounced pain, you can expect the man who put the Will in Kansas City’s “Big Willies” offensive line to lineup once again alongside Casey Wiegmann, Brian Waters, Willie Roaf and John Welbourn.

Thursday night, at a party hosted by Tony Gonzalez and Warren Moon, one of Shields’ teammates assured me that today’s all-star game would not be the last for Shields.

The popular thinking among the players in Honolulu is that the Chiefs, with Herm Edwards pushing the buttons, are the non-playoff team most likely to make a 2007 Super Bowl run.

“This team is going to be good regardless of whether I come back or not,” Shields said. “We’re right on the cusp of greatness. You don’t know what it’s going to take to push us over the edge. It might be one guy doing something a little different, something extra. It might be a group of guys. It might be me.”

It might be Ty Law. As Thursday night rolled into Friday morning, I knocked back a 32nd birthday shot of chilled Grey Goose with Law and his former New England teammate Otis Smith, the former Missouri Tiger. As my favorite corner celebrated his birthday, I campaigned for a Law-Herm Edwards Kansas City reunion.

Law said he expects the Jets to release him shortly after the Pro Bowl. In his one season in New York, Law led the NFL in interceptions with 10 and earned another Pro Bowl berth. He basically signed a one-year deal with the Jets because he had to prove he could recover from a 2005 foot injury.

“I was supposed to be done, but I put 10 interceptions on they (butt),” Law boasted. “Is the (Super Bowl) window still open for the Chiefs? Can the offense still get it done? And can they afford me and Pat (Surtain)?”

Yes, yes, and yes.

I explained to Law that as long as Shields returns for one more year and Larry Johnson takes care of himself this offseason, Kansas City’s offense will still score points. The offense might be less wide open, but that doesn’t mean it will be less effective.

“What about up front on defense? They got any playmakers?” Law wondered.

I told him the Chiefs need one playmaker to go along with Jared Allen. If Law signs for a reasonable price, the Chiefs could address their other shortcomings. So what kind of guaranteed, bonus money is Law looking for?

“I’d say around $10 million,” he said. “There are a lot of teams interested. Miami is talking about getting Steve McNair down there, and if the Dolphins get a quarterback, they’re a real contender for the Super Bowl. That’s what it’s all about for me right now. I need to win another title.”

Law also needs to play for a coach he can trust as much as Edwards, who has a great reputation with players around the league. Edwards’ player-friendly practice schedule was instrumental in Law’s ability to put together a strong season.

Shields said Edwards’ coaching style would benefit his ailing back and knees.

“I love Herm,” Shields said. “He’s a nice guy, a real straight-shooter. It’s always good to play for a guy who wants quality more than quantity. That’s better for your body.”
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