Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Father guided Willie Roaf to Hall of Fame
By Bill Williamson
It was as sure as a Willie Roaf pancake block.
At halftime of every high school game in Pine Bluff, Ark., as Roaf’s team would head to the locker room, there would stand Clifton Roaf, giving words of encouragement to his son.
“His dad was a driving force in Willie’s football career,” Roaf’s high school teammate John Flowers said.”Every game, he would there at the field house door at halftime, shaking everyone’s hand. When we came out for the second half, he was there clapping and screaming. I think he was the biggest presence in Willie’s football career.”
Clifton Roaf’s dedication to his son’s career will be highlighted Saturday when Willie Roaf, 42, is enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. As soon as he was elected into the Hall in February, the left tackle, who spent his final four NFL seasons dominating for the Kansas City Chiefs, decided to make his father his presenter into the Canton, Ohio, museum.
Really, Roaf, who flourished at Louisiana Tech after being lightly recruited in high school, knew his father would present him his entire life.
“He was the one who really motivated me for my career,” Roaf said. "He was always telling me what I needed to do to get to the next level. Even in college, he saw the potential I had before I did.”
Clifton Roaf, 71, was a successful dentist in Arkansas and had quite a busy work schedule. Yet, the former Michigan State football standout never missed any of his son's high school games and traveled to virtually every one of Roaf’s home games in college and in the NFL. Often traveled to road games, too. He made it to all 11 of Roaf’s Pro Bowl games in Hawaii.
“I wouldn’t be going into the Hall of Fame without my dad,” Roaf said. “So, having him present me into it is the only way to do it.”