Football HOF Profile: Willie Roaf

The New Orleans Saints have been through a lot since they were established in 1967 as they have struggled since the start. At first it was the perils of an expansion NFL team that could not afford the top players and ended up struggling for a few years. For the first few years the Saints struggled to put together wins but much of that was expected. As they matured as a franchise the Saints still could not do much in the way of putting together wins. The trend continued on for a painfully long time for Saints fans as they could not manage to get far above .500 for years. It lasted for so long that in 1970 a new nickname was created for the team as a local announcer coined the term the New Orleans Aints. The paper bags were out for almost every game as fans wore the bags signifying that they were embarrassed to be known as fans of one of the worst teams in football. Fast forward to today when the New Orleans Saints are at the centre of a battle with the NFL due to a bounty scandal. The Saints currently will be without their head coach for the entire 2012 season and without many of their defensive stalwarts for most of the season due to a pay for play scheme throughout the last few years. It was not all bad for the Saints though as they had a period in between the Aints and the Bounty scandal, mainly throughout the 1990s, where they enjoyed some success. The Saints remain one of the lightning rods for controversy but for the first time ever in Saints history they will be able to celebrate a great accomplishment in early August. Due to the lack of wins at the first half of the franchise there were no real players deserving of a spot in the hall. It would have to be a member of the winning Saints teams during the 1990s and 2000s that could make a run at the half of fame and that is exactly what happens this year. Willie Roaf represents the Saints in the class of 2012 as the first ever Saints player to make it into the hall of fame as he reminds fans of a better time. This election may mean the most to many this year as the Saints fans get to forget about their issues and celebrate one of the best players to ever enter the NFL.

In 1993 Roaf was the 8th selection overall by the Saints who had finally begun to make a push in the league. Instead of being the bottom dwellers for years the Saints were looking to put together a team that could finally challenge for a title. Roaf was a major part of this as the Saints had already won their division in 1991 and were looking to make that success more consistent. Drafting Roaf was an attempt to bring in the needed protection at the tackle position and for the Saints this worked out. He started his career at right tackle in 1993 and immediately had an impact on the team. Providing great protection Roaf earned accolades for his rookie campaign earning All-Rookie honours and proving that he could be the anchor to the Saints’ line. In his second year Roaf was moved to the all-important left tackle position protecting the blindside of his QB. This did nothing to slow Roaf down though as he continued to grow and became one of the best lineman in the league. In only his second year in the NFL Roaf earned All-Pro honours, All-NFC honours and was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time. 1994 also saw Roaf be recognized as one of the best lineman in the league when he earned the NFLPA NFC Offensive Lineman of the Year, an award he would win again in 1995. For years Roaf would be the anchor of the line and would help lead the team to their first ever playoff win in 2000. After years as a member of the Saints Roaf suffered a knee injury and was shipped off to the Kansas City Chiefs where he would finish his career. Roaf will go into the hall of fame this year and will represent the New Orleans Saints in a year where they need something to cheer about.

 

Willie Roaf, OT (1993-2005)

6’5” 320 lbs

New Orleans Saints (9 yrs)

189 G

– Twice named to the NFL All-Decade Teams (1990s & 2000s)

– 11-time Pro Bowl Selection

– 6-time First Team All- Pro Selection

– Also played for Kansas City Chiefs

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