Today Pro Football Hall of Fame member and former Buffalo Bill Billy Shaw will be recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance at Vicksburg High School in Vicksburg, Mississippi. It’s part of the “Hometown Hall of Famers” a national program honoring the hometown roots of the sports greatest coaches, players and contributors. Shaw and the community of Vicksburg will be honored with a special plaque ceremony, in a presentation made by Shaw’s former high school coach at Carr Centreal High School, Gene Allen. The plaque will live forever in the Vicksburg gymnasium to serve as an inspiration to community members and the school’s student athletes.
I sat down with Billy and had a quick chat with him about the presentation.
Doug - You’ve won a number of awards playing football, but this one mainly highlights Vicksburg. How big of an honor is this for this community?
Billy Shaw – To get back to Vicksburg, to see and meet again, the people who were instrumental in my life, who molded my athletic life, my educational life just makes me spoiled. Liek yesterday I had the chance to speak at my hometown church and to see some of those people, it was just so much fun.
Doug - I imagine the support has to be very, very strong…
Billy – It is, I have former high school teammates attending the event, coming in from great distances, just to be there. It just means so much.
Doug – Gene Allen, your former high school coach is presenting you the award, correct?
Billy Shaw – He is and the numbers were small for the football team. It was only his second year as head coach for Carr Central, but he was so far ahead of his time. He took me under his wing and got me ready for college. I certainly wasn’t ready, until I got there, but we had a number of great players and we had a lot of recognition from the media and colleges because of the talent level we had. Coach Allen was instrumental in getting us ready, from encouragement to everything. It is an honor and a pleasure to have him present the award.
Doug – Have you been able to keep in close contact with him?
Billy Shaw – I have. We still talk every month or so and he was a special guest of mine when I was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is actually only 6 years older than me.
Doug – Was there any moment which really stood out when you played for Central?
Billy Shaw – Well, Richard Price was Mr. Football in Mississippi. By far the greatest high school player in the state. He went to Ole Miss. Jack Carter, our quarterback went to Division 1. We only lost one game and never won state. But the school did win state the year before I joined.
Doug – Do you still happen to follow your former Pro team the Buffalo Bills?
Billy Shaw – I am a Bill for life. We actually have a reunion every year. The ex-players from the 60s, 70s and 80s meet the Saturday night before opening day, we go to the game on Sunday and have a golf tourney on the Monday. There about 75 to 80 players that come back and we have a great time. We are Bills. Period. Former Coach Gailey, actually lives about 12 miles from me.
Doug – So I imagine you had a close connection to Coach Gailey?
Billy Shaw – He just built a place in our hometown.
Doug - Do you like the direction of where the current team is headed?
Billy Shaw – I don’t know much about the current coach, but I’ve done some research and he seems like a good fit, but the game has changed so much. The turnover is just so great, they need to keep the core together. They need some quarterback help and have an offensive spread I think they could make their way back and I’m excited about that.
Doug – One last question. At the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremony you did something you regretted. Will you thank your wife when you accept this award?
Billy Shaw – I knew that was going to come up! She is the most celebrated lady. We have two daughters and their coming on this trip. So I plan on thanking all 3 this time. It was a big big mistake on my part and she has certainly gotten the heat over the years. Wherever we go at all speaking functions, the subject always comes up. We’ve been married 53 years now and she’s been right there beside me all those years. I would never have been a success if she hadn’t been there. What the football ladies had to go through was ten times worse than what we had to go through. Our kids would be 6 months in school in Buffalo and 6 months in Lousiana. Its tough.
Doug – Congratualtions on all your success Billy.
Billy Shaw – Thank you, and thank you again to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance for making this happen.
For the full interview, please click the link below:
An All-American lineman from Georgia Tech, Shaw was drafted by both the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League and the American Football League’s Buffalo Bills in 1961. Due to his strength, size and speed, Shaw signed as a guard with the Bills where he went on to become “the driving force of the offensive unit” according to his former offensive line coach Jerry Smith.
Shaw, equally adept at pass blocking and run blocking, was especially effective on short-yardage plays. He helped lead the Bills to win back-to-back AFL titles in 1964 and 1965 and was named a first-team All-AFL selection five straight seasons and a second-team All-AFL choice three times. The eight-time AFL All-Star Game selection was named to the All-Time AFL Team as well as pro football’s All-Decade Team of the 1960s.
Shaw was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999 as the first Hall of Fame member to spend his entire career in the AFL.
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