KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas City guard Will Shields is retiring after 14 NFL seasons, during which he made a record 12 Pro Bowl appearances and anchored one of the top offensive lines in the league.
The 35-year-old announced his decision on his Web site - www.willtosucceed.org - Sunday. He said the physical requirements of football had become more difficult with each passing day.
``The decision to hang up my cleats has not been an easy one to make for me, but one I knew I would eventually have to make,'' Shields wrote. ``Today, I am letting everyone know that I am putting away my pads.''
Shields, who made a team-record 224 starts, made his 12th Pro Bowl appearance last season to tie the record held by Minnesota guard Randall McDaniel.
The Chiefs had been waiting for Shields to decide whether he would come back for another season. Making the announcement entirely without warning on his Web site seemed in keeping with the privacy he has closely guarded throughout his stellar career. A team spokesman said Sunday night the club was not aware of Shields' announcement.
Shields strongly contemplated quitting after the 2005 season.
Shields' agent, Joseph Linta, did not immediately return a message left by The Associated Press.
``We haven't spoken with Will regarding his future plans,'' Chiefs spokesman Bob Moore said. ``I'm sure in due time we will speak if that's the path he takes.
``Without question, Shields has been more than a good player. He's been a major figure in the community. There's no doubt that whatever decision he makes, he will continue to hold that position.''
On his site, Shields thanked fellow players, coaches and his wife and children.
``I am looking forward to a future filled with sports in mind,'' he wrote. ``Whether it is in the stands, on the sideline, in the press box or in an office - football will remain in my blood. My best wishes to all and I hope to see you soon. Thank you again, for all your support.''
Shields was a third-round draft choice out of Nebraska in 1993 who quickly developed into one of the best players at his position.
Quick and agile for a 300-pounder, Shields led the way Pro Bowl runners Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson.
For several years, he teamed with Pro Bowl left tackle Willie Roaf, Pro Bowl left guard Brian Waters and Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez to form one of the best blocking units in the NFL.
Roaf retired abruptly just before the opening of training camp. It's possible that only Waters and Gonzalez will remain of the great Chiefs line of a few years ago because center Casey Wiegmann, an 11-year veteran, is also contemplating retirement.
Shields' absence, although not unexpected, is certain to leave a big hole in the offensive line as the Chiefs give second-year quarterback Brodie Croyle the chance to compete for the starting job.
Shields also has been active in community affairs, but never used his work in that area to raise his own profile. He created the ``Will To Succeed'' Foundation in 1993 and dedicated it toward improving the lives of abused, battered and neglected women and children.
``Every day I count the blessings that have been bestowed upon my family and me,'' he wrote.
``Each day I am thankful that I was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs and think of all the people who have supported the team, our family's foundation, and me. This community is like no other when it comes to support. Fourteen years sure fly by when you get to do what you love. The love for the game never decreased but, as the years passed, the physical requirements of the game became harder to fulfill each and every day. If it was up to me I would play football forever but, as we all know, that is unrealistic.
``However, I do hope to always be connected to the game in some capacity.''

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