Willie Roaf was up front about the fact that he might not make it through his Hall of Fame induction speech with dry eyes. The audience didn't make it past the introductory video for the 13-year veteran, as his father beamed with pride at his son's achievement.
"Normally, the father is the hero to the son," the elder Roaf explained as he choked back the emotion. "But in the this case, the son is the hero to the father."
At the podium wearing his gold jacket, Roaf thanked his father, explaining the time and dedication he put into supporting his son's passion. He drove all over Arkansas and beyond, taking his son to games until the car gave out and his dad would overhaul the machine rather than get a new one.
Louisiana Tech was the only school to give Roaf a scholarship, and he was glad to take it. From there the New Orleans Saints gave him his start, taking him with the eighth overall pick in the 1993 draft. He started 16 games as a rookie, and spent the next nine seasons with the Saints.
"I will be forever thankful to the Saints for drafting me," Roaf said.
Roaf made the first of 11 Pro Bowls in his second season in the NFL. He was named to the All-Decade team of the 1990s as well as the 2000s. An injury in 2001 looked like it would end his career. Kansas City gave him another shot, and he made the Pro Bowl in each of his four seasons there before hanging it up in 2005.
"They called me Gilligan's Island," Roaf confessed. "Because I could block the best by myself.
"I didn't get singled out very often," Roaf said. "When I did it was usually by a referee saying 'holding' ... and that didn't happen very often."
Roaf's mother, the first African-American woman on the Arkansas Supreme Court, passed away before she could see him inducted into the Hall of Fame.
"I know you're proud of me and that's what matters to me the most," Roaf said to his late mother.