Shaw has unique place in football history

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 7, 2000

Billy Shaw’s team wound up fourth in the fourth flight at the Joe Fortunato Celebrity Golf Classic Sunday. But Shaw’s place in sports history is still safe. Shaw was a unique pro football player, but his distinction has nothing to do with statistics such as rushing yards, receiving yards or touchdowns.

Shaw didn’t have to worry about statistics at all because he played offensive guard for the Buffalo Bills when the team was a member of the American Football League. Shaw had the distinction of being perhaps the only player to play his entire career in the AFL, having played for the Bills from 1961 to 1970.

&uot;When the AFL and the NFL merged, I retired from the Bills and pro football,&uot; he said.

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Shaw, who was born in Natchez and grew up in Vicksburg, played on some good teams for the Bills, especially during the mid-60’s. The Bills won the AFL Championship in 1964 and 1965 and were runners-up in 1966.

&uot;Lou Saban was the head coach during the years we went to the AFL Championship,&uot; Shaw said.

The ’64 Bills had the best record during Shaw’s 10-year stint in Buffalo, going 12-2. &uot;Kansas City defeated us pretty badly in Buffalo, something like 31-17, to win the AFL Championship and to go to Super Bowl I, where they lost to Green Bay,&uot; he said.

The year before winning its first AFL title, the then-Boston Patriots defeated Buffalo to advance to the AFL title game.

Those are two games Shaw wished the Bills could have won.

Despite not playing in a Super Bowl during his playing days, Shaw played in eight Pro Bowls and was an eight-time All-Pro.

Shaw went up against some pretty good defensive lineman during his playing days.

&uot;Houston Antwine of the Boston Patriots was the toughest defensive lineman I played against,&uot; Shaw said. &uot;He was short (6 feet, 280 pounds). He was quick, too. The small, quick guys gave me the most problems.

Shaw also went one-on-one with Ernie Ladd and Buck Buchanan.

&uot;They were like 6-8 to 6-10 and weighed 310-320 pounds. The big guys weren’t as much of a problem to block as the quick guys.&uot;

Among the running backs Shaw blocked for were Cookie Gillcrest, Ray Carlton and O. J. Simpson. &uot;I played at 258 pounds and had good foot speed,&uot; Shaw said. &uot;We ran the ball a lot.&uot;

And with those guys running the ball a lot, Shaw made sure they got plenty of room to run.