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Archive for Thursday, May 18, 2006

Chiefs keeping offensive line intact

Shields, Roaf - who have combined for 24 Pro Bowl invitations - are back for at least one more year

May 18, 2006

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— If anybody were eavesdropping, Will Shields and Willie Roaf must have sounded like bashful adolescents trying to muster the courage to line up a prom date.

"One of us would say, 'Hey, can you do it?'" Shields recalled.

"Then the other guy would say, 'I don't know. What about you?'"

"Well, I think I can. But I'm not sure. Are you sure?"

"I guess so."

Finally - and luckily for the Kansas City Chiefs - they both decided that yes, they could. The 12-time Pro Bowl left tackle and the 12-time Pro Bowl right guard talked themselves and each other into squeezing one more season out of their standout careers, making one more bid for the Super Bowl title that is about the only goal they have not yet reached.

"We were sort of feeding off each other," Shields said Wednesday at the end of an offseason practice session. "We talked about it all the time."

Said Roaf, "It was great seeing Will come back. That helped."

Roaf's problems were mostly physical, primarily a hamstring problem that sidelined the left tackle several games last season. Shields' situation also was complicated by salary-cap issues facing the Chiefs.

But when Kansas City proved willing to perform the necessary cap contortions to retain what many feel is the finest right guard in team history, Shields was ready to rejoin Roaf.

"I think it was more the issue of whether I was going to be here," Shields said. "That and retirement were different things I had to consider. That was a big issue, whether I was even going to be a Chief. I think I wanted to play. I just wanted to make sure it was under the right scenario. It's a give and take, and I'm just happy to be able to say I've got at least a couple more seasons, or one more season, to play."

Rarely is any team going to have two offensive linemen with 24 Pro Bowl invitations between them. That a close bond would bind the two seems only natural.

"That's a cool thing," Shields said. "I think that's worked to our advantage, the simple fact we were guys who came in at the same time. Hopefully, we can retire at the same time. We're both guys who have fun while we're doing it, and fortunately we've been able to accomplish a few things. Just not the ultimate thing yet."

Pro Bowl left guard Brian Waters was happy and relieved to hear of their decisions.

"You want good football players on your team and they're two of the best. And two of the greatest people in the world, too. They're both good friends of mine. I was ecstatic both of them were coming back."

Was he worried they might not?

"Definitely. I was really concerned," he said. "I know at the end of the season Willie was a little frustrated because of the injuries."

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