Meeting Roy Roundtree in the NFL
I am not a huge fan of the NFL. There is nothing really wrong with it, but my hometown teams growing up were the Lions and the Bengals. Not much to root for. In order to enjoy professional football, I switched from cheering for teams to rooting for former Michigan players on those teams. I want the Patriots to win because of Tom Brady. I want the Steelers defense to do well because of Woodley, and so on.
We live about forty-five minutes north of Cincinnati, so my brother and I piled our kids into my van and drove to watch the Bengals practice. More specifically, we went to see Leon Hall and Roy Roundtree. With the understanding that my most of my knowledge of football comes from watching games, this blog, and EA sports, I had a few observations. Roundtree ran crisp routs, and caught the ball well away from his body. While I do not have the roster memorized, he seemed to do was well as the starters in this regard. I did not see him drop a pass.
After some special team drills which neither seems to be a part of, they moved on to seven on seven. All of the players rotated every few snaps and they went out with different players each time. There did not appear to be a first team and second team. What surprised me during these drills was how much communication there was between defenders before the snap. I know Hoke has talked in the past about defenders talking to each other, and I now understand what he means. Hall and others were discussing who was taking the man in motion, and changing duties or coverage before anyone moved. None of the players Hall was guarding was open enough to be thrown to.
One of the things I noticed about Roundtree during this was his struggle with getting pushed around. While I think this occurred beyond the allowable distance, it did cause disruptions with this route running. This may be a skill he will be working on in the pros and he continues to add strength. When he was able to release he was able to create separation. My favorite was when starter Andy Dalton threw what appeared to be an out and up. Dalton focused on Roundtree the whole way and lofted the ball. The defender broke up the pass, but like the Northwestern game, Roundtree caught it off the deflection and took it in for the score. He got some dap from his teammates after returning to the group waiting for their turn again, and I shouted my kudos. The HBO Hard Knocks crew seemed impressed.
The best part of the day occurred after practice. Some of the players were out signing footballs, posters, signs, and t-shirts. Unfortunately, many of the players took their jerseys off and I did not recognize them. We walked past the players and my kids marveled that people could be that big. A couple of 6’ 6” or 6’ 7’’ guys well over three hundred pounds is an impressive site when you see them up close. Just as we were about to exit I look up, and there is #86 walking away after taking some extra passes. Not sure if we should say anything, I look at my brother for confirmation, or at least encouragement. I decided to yell anyway. “ROY,” I shout. He turns and looks to see who called his name. He sees my Michigan hat and my brother’s Michigan shirt and smiles, then comes trotting over. I get him to sign my hat, and he posses for a picture each for my brother and myself holding our kids. He is polite and engaging, just as I imagined a Michigan man to be.
As we leave I am probably a little giddier than a grown man should be. That is when I notice he signed my hat with his name and #21, Go Blue. I know I just talked to him for a few minutes, but I liked him, and I wish him success in the NFL.