Place in history: Memorial retires Roberts’ No. 44

Published 8:15 pm Wednesday, February 7, 2018


Former Port Arthur Memorial assistant coach Bruce Swinton recited a question he asked head coach Kenny Harrison: “Why do we recognize people after they play?”

Whatever the answer might have been, Harrison had a solution.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“This is the perfect time to recognize Elandon,” Swinton recalled Harrison saying during the retirement of Roberts’ No. 44 jersey at Memorial on Wednesday afternoon. The ceremony proceeded the Titans’ National Signing Day assembly.

Roberts, who was not heavily recruited out of Memorial, wore No. 44 at the University of Houston after beginning his collegiate career at Morgan State in Baltimore. He now wears No. 52 for the New England Patriots.

Elandon Roberts has his Memorial jersey number unveiled during a number retirement ceremony at the school auditorium Wednesday. From left are Memorial head coach Kenny Harrison, Roberts, assistant coach Rashard Colquitt and offensive coordinator Cornelius Harmon. (I.C. Murrell/The News)

But No. 44 means a lot to the second-year pro, coming off his second straight Super Bowl.

“It represents a lot,” Roberts said. “That’s the number I’d been wearing since I was a little kid in Pop Warner. I had been wearing that number my whole life, and to have that number retired means the world to me.”

Roberts came back to Port Arthur three days after making four assisted tackles in the Patriots’ 41-33 loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52. He made a video appearance during Memorial’s 2017 National Signing Day assembly just days before winning Super Bowl 51 in dramatic fashion over the Atlanta Falcons.

This time, Roberts drew praises from his UH coach in a video.

“I can’t thank you enough for everything you’ve done for me along the way,” current University of Texas coach Tom Herman said. “You were one of the best leaders, if not the best leader, I’ve ever been around. Your perseverance, your stick-to-it-iveness, your leadership ability, your enthusiasm and your physicality is something that anybody that comes in contact with you is better off having been next to you, and I consider myself one of those people.”

Swinton said Roberts looks the same as he did when the Memorial coaching staff first looked at the linebacker — “minus the muscles.” He started to gain some attention from recruiters after dominating a well-recruited, bigger teammate during a spring practice drill, but had no offers until he arranged a visit to Morgan State, a historically black Football Championship Subdivision university.

“Elandon constantly stayed on the phone with me and never wavered in his decision to play Division I major college football,” Swinton said. “Elandon said, ‘Coach, you got to get me to a Division I school.’ I said, ‘Trust the process.’”

After two seasons of limited action at UH, Roberts became a defensive captain for the Cougars and led them to a Peach Bowl win over Florida State.

Now, Roberts has two Super Bowl appearances in as many seasons as a professional.

“It’s been crazy,” Roberts said. “Unfortunately, you didn’t come out with the outcome that you wanted, but at the end of the day, we accomplished a lot in the last season. What we have to do right now, you have to rest. You have to get your mind back right. When it’s time to go back to work, you have to take it one day at a time. We can’t look ahead. We’ve got to keep taking step by step.”

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.

email author More by I.C.