Will Shields

NFL Hall of Famer Will Shields to Highlight NAIA Champions of Character® Awards Luncheon

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) will present five (5) honors as a part of the annual Champions of Character® Foundation Awards luncheon, set for Thursday, November 2, 2023 (11:00 a.m. CT), at the Marriott Muehlebach Hotel in downtown Kansas City, Mo.

Former Kansas City Chiefs’ Offensive Lineman and NFL Hall of Famer Will Shields will serve as this year’s NAIA Featured Character Honoree.

“Character-driven athletics and are a primary focus for the NAIA and something our members greatly value,” said NAIA President and CEO Jim Carr. “These honorees truly exemplify our five core values, and we are excited to celebrate their achievements.”


The 2023 award winners are:

  • Company of Character: Zephyr Products
  • Team of Character: Oak Park Varsity Football Team
  • Coach of Character: Jamar Mozee, Lee’s Summit North High School
  • High School Student-Athlete of Character: Harper Razak, Bonner Springs High School
  • NAIA Student-Athlete of Character: Chapel Cunningham and Leah Gonzalez, Southeastern University


In addition to the above award winners, there were 19 student-athletes who were announced as Champions of Character award winners for their respective Kansas City area high schools. The awards recognize individuals and businesses that embody the NAIA’s five core values of Integrity, Respect, Responsibility, Sportsmanship and Servant Leadership. The award winners were chosen based on the way they demonstrate these values throughout their daily lives.

The Champions of Character Foundation Awards celebrates the character values of those who make a difference in the culture of sport and in our community. Support from the event is designed to create a better culture of sport through the advancement of character education programs that intentionally teach the five core values to young people.

A staple in the Kansas City community since being drafted in the third round of the 1993 National Football League Draft, Shields has embarked on a life of remarkable service to the community. In recognition of his efforts, he was named Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year in 2003, which is given annually honoring a player's commitment to philanthropy and community impact, as well as his excellence on the field.

With all his accomplishments on the gridiron, Shields has been even more impressive in the community. His charitable involvement is brought to life through the Will to Succeed Foundation, co-founded with his wife, Senia. Since 1993, the organization has worked in Kansas City to guide, inspire, and improve the lives of abused and neglected women and children. Additionally, he serves as the Community Central South Director of the NFL Legends program.

The Champions of Character® Foundation was established by the NAIA to impact the lives of student-athletes through sport and to reward those that keep as a vital part of their athletics experience. This event in its eight years has raised $1MM. It is supported by thousands around Greater Kansas City each year and this inspiring event recognizes student-athletes, coaches, teams, and businesses that reflect the Five Core Values of the NAIA’s Champions of Character® Program – Respect, Integrity, Responsibility, Sportsmanship, and Servant Leadership.

For more information on the Champions of Character® Foundation Awards & Fundraiser, go to NAIA.org/COCLuncheon 


ABOUT NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETICS (NAIA) The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., is a governing body of small athletics programs that are dedicated to character-driven intercollegiate athletics. NAIA members provide more than 83,000 student-athletes with opportunities to play college sports, earn $1.3 billion in scholarships and compete in 28 national championships. naia.org | @NAIA