Football Player, 1993-2002
Previously elected to sports halls of fame in Arkansas (2007) and Louisiana (2009), the New Orleans Saints (2008) and pro football’s “Big One” in Canton, Ohio (2012), Willie Roaf now has one for the thumb.
Roaf’s unanimous election to the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame is a fitting addition to a burgeoning hall of fame resume’ and comes just prior to his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 4 in Canton, Ohio.
“We’re glad to congratulate William Roaf on his election to the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame,” New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson said. “He meant a great deal to our team during his career with us. He was the best player on our team during his entire tenure with us, one of the top players in the history of our franchise and one of the NFL’s greatest at his position.”
“It’s a great honor and I’m very humbled by it all,” Roaf said. “This completes the circle for me.”
Nicknamed “Nasty,” the 42-year-old Roaf played 13 seasons in the NFL, the first nine with the Saints who drafted him with the eighth pick of the first round in 1993 from Louisiana Tech where he earned All-America honors. He was an 11-time NFL Pro Bowl selection and a nine-time All-Pro.
Of the nine seasons with the Saints, he was named to seven Pro Bowls. In March 2002, he was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs where he was named to four additional Pro Bowls before announcing his retirement in July 2006.
He won a spot on the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team and the 2000s All-Decade Team, making him the most awarded player in Saints history.
His election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame came during his second year of eligibility and was announced on February 4, 2012.
“It really hasn’t all sunk in yet,” said Roaf, the son of the late Andree Layton Roaf, who became the first black woman to serve on the Arkansas Supreme Court. “It means I did something, whether it be football or any other thing you do in life, I did it to the highest level and I’m proud for what I did for a long time.
“I played football for most of my life and I got to the epitome of a group that will be immortalized,” Roaf continued. “You’re in a group and they measure your bust and doing all these measurements and all this stuff on your face. Being there with those guys, these guys you played against, your peers and the group that I’m going in with, it’s so special because of them.”
Story by Brian Allee-Walsh of the Greater New Orleans Sports Selection Committee, July, 2012.