Willie Or Won't He Return

For so long in Kansas City, all we talked about was free agent cornerback Ty Law. Now the talk centers on left tackle Willie Roaf. Later today he's scheduled to be interviewed by ESPN Cold Pizza. What will he ultimately do?

The great debate is on.

In one corner you have the Chiefs, who would dearly love to squeeze one more year out of Roaf. Yes, they might have made a great move by bringing tackle Kyle Turley out of retirement, but they really want Roaf to return all the same.

In the other corner, you have arguably the best left tackle to ever play a down in the NFL. There is zero debate that Roaf is the very best at his craft in the NFL right now. If his mind, body and spirit are in for another season, his Hall of Fame induction will be delayed by a year. If not, let the countdown to immortality begin.

At the end of last season, Roaf was adamant about returning in 2006. In fact, he indicated that he would not rule out playing beyond this season. He was also instrumental in convincing All-Pro guard Will Shields to play one more year with the Chiefs.

When a player states he wants to retire, like John Welbourn did in the spring, money is usually the biggest factor. Yes, Welbourn stated he wanted to go back to school, but my hunch is that he wasn't happy with his contract and chose the lesser of two battlefronts.

For Roaf, it's not about the money.

I still marvel at the fluid grace that Roaf plays with. It's amazing to see him walk like an old man in the locker room, only to turn into Superman when the ball is snapped.

But maybe Superman has found his kryptonite. As fans, perhaps we don't want to admit that he might have made his last pancake block in a Chiefs uniform. Let's hope not.

On the plus side, Roaf has not told anyone with the Chiefs that he's 100 percent decided on retirement. Several weeks ago, President Carl Peterson said he spoke with Roaf's agent, who said Roaf needed more time to decide whether or not he was going to play another NFL season.

Coach Herman Edwards told reporters last week that he and Roaf were scheduled to talk this week.

If I were a betting man, I'd say that Edwards has a pretty good shot at convincing Roaf to return for one more season. If the chips fall right and the injuries are minimal this season, the Chiefs have as good a chance as anyone else in the conference to make a run at the AFC Championship.

There are about 10 teams with varying degrees of question marks who can say the same thing about their Super Bowl chances. The Chiefs are no better or worse off than any of those teams. But with Roaf, maybe a couple of those question marks can be eliminated.

We all thought that Ty Law was the missing piece to the Chief's championship puzzle. Now everyone feels that Roaf is that missing piece.

I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we all hope he comes out of the tunnel on September 10th at Arrowhead, anchoring the best offensive line in the NFL.

On the flipside, I completely understand and support Roaf if he wants to call it a career. If his body has told him to quit, then he knows best, and that should be just fine with everyone in Chiefs Nation. It won't make us happy, but Roaf has earned the right to step aside from the game, and all we can do is feel grateful that he was part of the Chiefs recent surge into offensive excellence.

But if he can muster up another season of football and take one more shot at a Super Bowl, then everyone in Kansas City will have an extra bounce in their step when the regular season starts three weeks from Sunday.

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