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10 years after speech, Billy Shaw's still apologizing

8/8/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
CANTON, Ohio -- Entering the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999 with Lawrence Taylor, Eric Dickerson and Ozzie Newsome, Billy Shaw wasn't nearly the star of his induction class.

But he made the most indelible mark that year.

This is the 10-year anniversary of Shaw's enshrinement. At a casual media gathering at the McKinley Grand Hotel, the legendary Buffalo Bills guard retold the story of how he prompted the "Billy Shaw Rule" for future induction ceremonies.

"I'm the guy that they named the Billy Shaw Rule after when a new guy gets inducted because in my speech I forgot my wife," Shaw said. "I had to go get on my hands and knees on the podium to apologize to her."

Shaw did just that, quite literally.

"Now, when they are giving the new class their instructions, they say 'Certainly, in your acceptance speech, don't forget your family and, more importantly, your wife or significant other,'" Shaw said.

Shaw, who played nine years for the Bills and was a driving force to them winning back-to-back AFL titles, thanked just about everybody you could imagine and then walked away from the lectern to applause and posed for some photos with his bust.

"My daughter, sitting on the front row, gave me this sign," Shaw said before re-enacting the throat-slash gesture Cindy Shaw gave him.

"When she did that, I knew that I had screwed up royally. And she [mouthed] 'Forgot mom.' During the intermission I went to the front of the stage and I got my knees and did this to her."

Shaw mimicked a reverential bow, theatrically raising and lowering his arms in his wife's direction.

"Eric saved my life because I spoke before he did," Shaw said. "He went up there and made amends for me."

Shaw's groveling and Dickerson's followup request for forgiveness must have worked. Billy and Patsy Shaw recently celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary.