Future unknown, Babineaux ‘reached goal’ of 12 years

Published 3:41 pm Saturday, July 15, 2017

Just five months ago, Jonathan Babineaux and Elandon Roberts met at the same stadium in Houston, both men trying to win their first Super Bowl.

Just when Babineaux and the Atlanta Falcons seemed well on their way, there was no stopping Roberts and the New England Patriots from the greatest comeback in the championship game’s history.

“It was real crazy to have that experience and especially someone else from Port Arthur on the other side of the field,” Babineaux said. “For the city, it’s a win-win situation, no matter who won the game. The city of Port Arthur had two guys in one Super Bowl game; I don’t know if that ever happened before.”

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The setting was much different Saturday. Again, Babineaux and Roberts met in a stadium, this time their home Memorial Stadium in Port Arthur. And the only trophy that was on the line was much taller than the Vince Lombardi that Roberts got to kiss in February.

It was to be awarded to the winning team in Roberts’ 7-on-7 high school football tournament, which followed his inaugural 5K Heart Walk. The tournament was canceled due to lightning in the area.

Whether Babineaux will get to chase the Vince Lombardi Trophy again remains to be seen. The Falcons released the 35-year-old defensive tackle, a 2000 Lincoln graduate, shortly after the Super Bowl.

He’s not exactly sure if he’ll put on the pads again.

“Either way, whether I’m playing or in the front office somewhere, I’m still going to have some ties to the NFL,” Babineaux said, asked what his football future may hold. “Right now, I’m just relaxing and enjoying my time with the kids, working out and seeing what situations pop up as the season gets closer and decide on whether I want to continue my career with another team or just hang it up.”

Rookies will report to training camp as early as Wednesday in the NFL, with the veterans to begin as early as July 23.

Babineaux, who played collegiately at Iowa, told NBC Sports last month he was “50-50” on whether to retire. He spent his entire 12-year career with Atlanta, and he’ll be perfectly fine with that if no other team calls him up for a 13th season.

“My goal was to play 12 years in the NFL, and I did that,” Babineaux said. “Anything else is just a bonus for me.”

Babineaux set that goal because his birthday is Oct. 12.

“I had a few teams that called me,” Babineaux said, asked about his playing prospects. “At the time, I was still rehabbing my shoulder, so I wasn’t trying to go and work out for a team while I was rehabbing my shoulder.”

Babineaux underwent surgery on his shoulder, which he injured during the season, shortly after the season. He hasn’t been offered any front-office job, but believes he could contribute to a team that way.

At least two of the eight high school teams were still at Memorial Stadium hoping to get in some action with the first day of preseason camp quickly approaching. One of them was host Port Arthur Memorial, and the other was the Fast Houston 7v7 team.

Roberts called on some of his friends from the NFL to help coach the teams, including Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans, Patriots teammates Cyrus Jones and Vincent Valentine and Cincinnati Bengals stars Brandon LaFell and Will Jackson, to name a few.

“I was looking forward to watching these young talented guys come out here and put on a show, but maybe next year, it won’t get rained out,” said Evans, a former Texas A&M star who’s caught for 1,000 or yards in each of his three NFL seasons. “It’s Mother Nature; you can’t do nothing about it. But this is a great event.”

Evans and Roberts share the same agent, Deryk Gilmore of Atlanta.

Even if Babineaux doesn’t come back for a 13th season, he looks forward to seeing what type of career Roberts — who was a rookie from the University of Houston last season — will have in the NFL.

“Elandon’s got a bright future in the NFL,” Babineaux said. “The things that he’s doing on and off the field, he’s got his head right. I’m looking forward to Elandon having a great career and being successful.”

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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