Willie Roaf, Hall of Famer

Willie Roaf, Hall of Famer
by Larry Schmitt

This week we will look at the second offensive lineman of the Hall of Fame's 2012 class. One of the most decorated players in New Orleans history, he also played a significant part in a record setting offense in Kansas City toward the close of his 13-season career.

Willie Roaf was able to consistently achieve personal recognition despite playing on mostly disappointing teams in New Orleans, and is just the second Saint to be enshrined in Canton, OH, joining Rickey Jackson from the Class of 2010.

New Orleans thought so highly of Roaf coming out of Louisiana Tech in 1993, they traded Pro Bowl linebacker Pat Swilling to the Detroit Lions to move up to the 8th spot in the first round of the draft. A powerful force at 6'5" and 320 lbs., Roaf possessed rare athletic ability for a player of his size. He boasted a 40-yard dash time of 4.8 seconds, and was nimble enough to maneuver through traffic on Guard-like pulls.

Roaf was an instant starter his rookie season, playing all 16 games at right tackle, and was named to the NFL's All Rookie team. The following year he moved to left tackle, where he came a household name. His run of seven consecutive Pro Bowl nominations also saw him receive All Pro designation and the NFC Offensive Lineman of the Year award in 1994 and 1995.

Unfortunately, the Saints struggled as a team during Roaf's tenure. A Symptom of the franchises struggles was their lack of continuity at the quarterback position. During his nine seasons in New Orleans, they started 13 different players at quarterback (Wade Wilson, Mike Buck, Steve Walsh, Jim Everett, Doug Nesseir, Heath Shuler, Billy Joe Hobert, Danny Wuerffel, Billy Joe Tolliver, Kerry Collins, Jake Delhomme, Jeff Blake and Aaron Brooks). However, Roaf did help pave the way for the Saints first thousand-yard back in 11 years, when Ricky Williams ran for that exact total in 2000. That also was the season New Orleans enjoyed their first ever post season victory with a win over the favored St. Louis Rams in the Wild Card round.

Following an injury shortened 2001 season, Roaf was traded to Kansas City. Roaf anchored the left tackle position next to left guard (and fellow 2012 HOF Finalist) Will Shields on the NFL's premier offense of the mid 2000's.  In his four seasons with the Chiefs, they twice lead the NFL in points scored in 2002 and 2003, and in total yards from scrimmage in 2003 and 2004. Teammates Trent Green (three 4,000 yard passing seasons), Priest Holmes (1,000 yards rushing in 2002) and Larry Johnson (1,000 yard season in 2005) all prospered behind Roaf's pass protection and drive blocking.

Roaf was voted to the Pro Bowl all four seasons in Kansas City and also found a spot on the All Pro Team in 2004.

His 11 total Pro Bowls tied him for most all time by an offensive tackle with Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz. Roaf was also named to the NFL's All Decade Team for the 1990's.



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