Shaw was a first-team All-American Football League selection four times (1963 through 1966) and second team All-AFL in 1968 and 1969. He played in eight American Football League All-Star Games and was named to the All-Time All-AFL Team. He made the All-Decade All-pro football team of the 1960s. Shaw played his entire career in the American Football League, and retired after the 1969 AFL season.
Shaw is the only player ever inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame without ever playing in the NFL (The Bills along with the rest of the AFL merged with the NFL the season following his retirement). He is also a member of the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame and the Bills' 50th Anniversary Team.
Shaw participated in sports throughout his entire youth. He played end in High School football at a small school right outside of Vicksburg until the school decided to drop football. His father moved the family into town so Shaw could continue to play football at Carr Central. Weighing in at 188 pounds Shaw played offensive and defensive tackle at Carr his senior year.
Shaw played offense while he was at Georgia Tech. By his senior year, Shaw weighed in at 220 pounds. His senior year he earned All-American honors as a two-way tackle and was named to the Georgia Tech All-Time Team. “Actually,” Shaw once said, “l thought I played defense much better than offense, and I still believe most of the honors I received were for my defensive play.” After the season Shaw was named to the 1961 College All-Star Team. The coach worked him for two weeks as a Defensive End until guard Houston Antwine injured his ankle. This is when Shaw bagan playing guard. The College All-Star Team that year played the Philadelphia Eagles. "I was scared to death,” Shaw recalled about playing the NFL champion Philadelphia Eagles in the annual All-Star contest. "I was up against Ed Khayat, a Mississippi boy who later finished his career with Boston (Patriots). I thought this might ease the tension a bit since he might take it easier on me. It was just the opposite. He turned me every way but loose.” Shaw played an amazing game, actually knocking the wind out of Eagle linebacker Maxie Baughan. In the 1961 draft, Shaw was drafted in the second round by the Buffalo Bills, and in the 14th round by the, then rival team of the Buffalo Bills, the Dallas Cowboys. “I had been in contact with the Cowboys mostly prior to the Bills getting involved,” recalled Shaw. “The Cowboys wanted to play me at linebacker. We had lengthy conversations at that point in time. The Bills wanted to play me at either defensive end or an offensive line position. I really wanted to play on the defensive side of the ball as a defensive end. So that triggered a real interest for me (in the Bills).”
Billy Shaw was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys and the Buffalo Bills in the 1961 NFL and AFL Drafts, but decided to sign with the Bills. Shaw did well at both blocking for the pass and for the run. With Bills' running backs tending to be more durable than fast, Shaw was the perfect guard. He could stay in front of the runners far down field. Shaw was known as "the driving force of the offensive unit." Shaw was a first-team All-American Football League selection four times (1963 through 1966) and second team All-AFL in 1968 and 1969. He played in eight American Football League All-Star Games and was named to the All-Time All-AFL Team. He made the All-Decade All-pro football team of the 1960s. Shaw played his entire career in the American Football League, and retired after the 1969 AFL season. The 1962-1964 Bills are still ranked among the best in rushing touchdowns in a season in the team's record book.