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Friday, July 28, 2006
Chiefs Pro Bowl tackle Roaf retires

By Len Pasquarelli
ESPN.com

Eleven-time Pro Bowl performer Willie Roaf, one of the NFL's premier left tackles during his 13-year career, has apprised Kansas City Chiefs officials that he is retiring.

Roaf did not go to training camp with the rest of the Chiefs players, and Kansas City officials said his absence was for personal reasons, but that they expected him to report within a few days. But a team source said Friday afternoon that Roaf, who has flirted with retirement each of the last two offseasons, told Chiefs officials that he is ending his celebrated career.

"I guess they want me to reconsider," Roaf told The Kansas City Star. "[But] I'm solid on retiring and going back to school."

Team officials have been able in the past to dissuade Roaf from walking away from the game, but their efforts apparently were not persuasive enough this time.

"I'd say right now, because of who Willie Roaf is, what he has contributed to the Kansas City Chiefs and what he's contributed to the National Football League, we're going to keep the door open for a while," Carl Peterson, team president and general manager, said Friday, the first day of Chiefs training camp.

"Players do change their mind."

Earlier this offseason, amid what have become near-annual reports of his pending retirement, Roaf insisted that he would play another season. But Roaf, 36, has suffered through hamstring and knee problems the past few seasons, and that likely contributed to his decision.

Roaf missed six games in 2005 with a strained hamstring.

The departure of Roaf leaves the Chiefs without a proven left tackle and, with camps opening around the league, there are no quality replacements in the free agent pool. Third-year veteran Jordan Black, who played left tackle in Roaf's absence last season, will likely get the first shot at the starting job. Kansas City signed former New Orleans and St. Louis lineman Kyle Turley, who hasn't played in two seasons because of back problems, and he is expected to win the starting right tackle job.

A first-round draft pick of the Saints in 1993, Roaf was traded to Kansas City in 2002. He has played in 189 games, all starts, and went to the Pro Bowl in all but two seasons.

The former Louisiana Tech standout was one of the most dominant left tackles of his era, combining strength, quickness and technique to carve out a celebrated career.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here Insider. Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.