With Super Bowl Week in full swing, we once again await word on the newest members of pro football’s elite. On Saturday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 44-person selection committee will converge in North Texas to vote on the Class of 2011.
There are 17 final candidates up for consideration this year, with the 2011 class expected to consist of four to seven members. One of the players up for final deliberation is former New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Willie Roaf.
Roaf is one of five first-year eligible players on this year’s ballot, joining Jerome Bettis, Marshall Faulk, Curtis Martin and Deion Sanders.
Though he spent the majority of his 13-year playing career in New Orleans, Roaf’s tenure in Kansas City had a profound effect on the franchise. Roaf earned Pro Bowl honors each season he spent in a Chiefs uniform (2002-05) and Kansas City led the NFL in total offense (387.5 net yards per game) and scoring (1,837 points/28.7 points per game) during the four-year timeframe that Roaf manned left tackle.
Overall, Roaf was named to 11 Pro Bowls over his 13-year NFL career – a total that is tied for first in NFL record books among offensive tackles alongside Anthony Munoz and Jonathan Ogden. Munoz is already a member of the Pro Football Fame, while Ogden is not yet eligible for induction.
“Willie Roaf was the most explosive dominating offensive lineman I ever coached,” former Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil said. “I've never been around a lineman that could physically dominate another good NFL defensive lineman or linebacker in the league.
“He could dominate an All-Pro, reducing him to the level of an average player. His explosive moves out of his stance have never been equaled by anyone. His ability to get out into the perimeter with speed and grace, and then block a moving target in space was spectacular. One of the most impressive attributes about Willie was his ability to compete against the best. The better the player he faced, the more dominating he became. To me, he's the finest offensive lineman to ever play the game. He was truly a "shut-down" tackle”
The Chiefs produced a 1,000-yard rusher in three of Roaf’s seasons serving as anchor of the offensive line. In 2002, Roaf’s first season in Kansas City, the Chiefs set a franchise mark with 6,000 yards of total offense and RB Priest Holmes churned out 1,615 rushing yards. During Roaf’s final season, RB Larry Johnson ran for the second-highest rushing total in team history with 1,750 yards. In addition, QB Trent Green never missed a game with Roaf protecting his blindside.
Over the course of his career with the Chiefs and Saints, Roaf was named AP All-Pro eight times and earned Pro Football Weekly/PFWA All-Pro honors seven times. He was also named to the Pro Football Weekly All-Rookie Team in 1993 and is part of two NFL All-Decade teams from the 1990’s and 2000’s.
His resume will be discussed and debated by a contingency of media in a very detailed process. The Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee is comprised of media members from each NFL city, including two representatives from New York. There are also 11 at-large delegates and an additional representative from the Pro Football Writers of America. Each candidate must receive a minimum of 80% approval to join football’s exclusive class of yellow blazers.
We’ll know on Saturday evening whether or not Roaf will join 14 members of the HOF with ties to the Kansas Cityh Chiefs. The Class of 2011 will be unveiled during a one-hour special on NFL Network at 6:00 PM (CST).
Class of 2011 Finalists – Complete List
Kansas City Chiefs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame:
Founder Lamar Hunt (Class of 1972)
LB Bobby Bell (Class of 1983)
LB Willie Lanier (Class of 1986)
QB Len Dawson (Class of 1987)
DT Buck Buchanan (Class of 1990)
K Jan Stenerud (Class of 1991)
C Mike Webster (Class of 1997)
QB Joe Montana (Class of 2000)
Coach Marv Levy (Class of 2001)
RB Marcus Allen (Class of 2003)
Coach Hank Stram (Class of 2003)
QB Warren Moon (Class of 2006)
CB Emmitt Thomas (Class of 2008)
LB Derrick Thomas (Class of 2009)
Note: According to profootballhof.com, an enshrinee is not asked to “declare,” nor does the Hall of Fame “choose” a team under which a new member is enshrined. When elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, an individual is recognized for his accomplishments as a player, coach, or contributor.