William (Willie) Roaf (1970–)

Willie Roaf became one of the greatest football players in Arkansas sports history and one of the best offensive linemen ever in the National Football League (NFL). He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.

William Roaf was born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on April 18, 1970, one of four children of dentist Clifton Roaf and attorney Andree Layton Roaf. (Andree Roaf was the first African-American female member of the Arkansas Supreme Court and the second woman ever to serve in that capacity.) Though he played football at Pine Bluff High School, graduating in 1988, he was not recruited by any major colleges. After he was told that he would need to gain more weight to be seriously considered for major college football, he briefly considered pursuing college basketball. He was finally offered a football scholarship at Louisiana Tech University in 1989.

After encouragement from coaches to further develop fundamentals and to work hard on weights, Roaf began to transform into an able offensive player. He was named a two-time all South Independent Conference player, served as a team captain in 1992, and earned All-American honors. Roaf was part of the team that went to the Independence Bowl in 1990, finishing with an 8–3–1 record. In his senior year at Louisiana Tech, Roaf was a finalist for the Outland Trophy for the best offensive lineman in college.

In 1993, the NFL’s New Orleans Saints chose Roaf as the overall eighth pick during the first round of the draft. He started all sixteen games in his first year, earning All-Rookie honors. By his second season with the Saints, he was a Pro Bowl choice. He went on with the Saints to play in seven Pro Bowls. He attained the honor of All Pro four times over his nine-year career with the team and was eventually named to the 1990s All-Decade Team and the 2000s All-Decade Team.

He joined the Kansas City Chiefs in 2002 after suffering an injury with the Saints in 2001. Over the next four years, he amassed eleven Pro Bowl selections. In 2009, Roaf took his first coaching job, becoming the offensive line coordinator at Santa Monica College in California.

In 2012, Roaf was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Roaf has also been inducted into the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame, the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, and the College Football Hall of Fame. He is married to Angela Hernandez Roaf.

For additional information:
Smith, Jimmie. “Hall of Famer Willie Roaf Showed Early He Was Athletic Big Man.” Times-Picayune, July 31, 2012. Online at http://www.nola.com/saints/index.ssf/2012/07/hall_of_famer_willie_roaf_show.html (accessed September 28, 2021).

Trahan, Ken. “William Roaf Proud to Represent Saints in Hall of Fame.” SportsNOLA, February 7, 2012. http://www.sportsnola.com/sports/saints/saints-news/580513-william-roaf-proud-to-represent-saints-in-hall-of-fame.html (accessed September 28, 2021).

“Willie Roaf.” Pro Football Hall of Fame. http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PlayerId=300 (accessed September 28, 2021).

Jimmy Cunningham
Nashville, Tennessee


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