LENEXA, Kan. –Has it really been 10 years?
Back in 2003, the Kansas City Chiefs were undefeated at 9-0, and trying to remain unbeaten in the NFL ranks.
This year’s scene looks very familiar to one Chiefs’ Hall of Famer.
“2003 was close. We had an offense putting up numbers,” retired Chiefs Offensive Lineman Will Shields said on Monday.
It was the one that got away. Shields remembers it well.
The 2013 Kansas City Chiefs remind him a lot of the team from his era. Shields played on his own 9-0 team, and loved every down of it, as the Chiefs targeted the AFC West championship.
“Being 9-and-0 helps you get to that point,” Shields said. “But also, there are other intangibles you have to look for. You have to keep working toward it.”
Will and the ’03 Chiefs took their unbeaten record to Cincinnati to meet up with a determined Bengals ballclub. Dick Vermeil’s Chiefs took a 24-19 loss, in a game the Bengals franchise considers one of its best wins ever. Shields said the loss actually helped that team re-tool en route to the divisional crown.
“It helped us know we’re not invincible,” Shields said. “That’s one of the things that made it work better.”
There are more similarities to point out too.
The 2003 chiefs had recorded tough wins over powerhouse franchises, including Green Bay, Pittsburgh and the Raiders. The Cincinnati loss ended the best season-opening win streak in franchise history, which has been equalled by this year’s team.
“It’s like anything else,” Shields said. “It shows the chinks in your armor. If you don’t have any chinks, it’s not worth working for.”
Shields played 14 seasons in red and gold, and nowadays, he operates a successful gym and performance center in Lenexa. Shields said it feels great to see this season’s Chiefs aiming high.
“It’s good to see them have a year with a nice path and to see them get closer to where they want to be,” Shields said.
We asked shields if there’s too much emphasis on remaining unbeaten — and not enough on winning the divisional title — and other prizes thereafter. He said no — and it’s only natural for players to want to win every game.