Last Updated on December 22, 2002 by Paulette Brown-Hinds

By Collen Williams
Special to the BVN Sports Staff

Roland Williams, tight end for the AFC Western Division Champion Oakland Raiders, has proven himself to be one of the premier tight ends in the National Football League.

This season, Williams is ranked seventh in the league among tight ends for receptions and yards. The 6 foot 5 inch, 265-pound tight end has prototypical size, strength and a reputation for being a complete tight end. As a blocker, he has the ability to engage defenders and stay on his blocks. As a receiver, Roland is very reliable and has a knack for getting open. Last season, with the Raiders, he recorded his career bests in receptions and yardage. Surprisingly, on a team with future Hall of Fame wide receivers Jerry Rice and Tim Brown, Williams recorded the longest reception of the Oakland Raiders 2002 season; a 49-yard pass versus the Kansas City Chiefs. I recently caught up with the tight end with good hands, Rollin’ Williams, to find out how he got his start in football.
Who is Roland Williams?

Williams: I am number 86 for the Oakland Raiders. I play tight end. It’s the best position on the football field, not quarterback, not running back but tight end. I love it.
I am from Rochester, New York. I went to Syracuse University. While I was there, I got two degrees, an undergraduate in Communications and a Master’s in Public Relations. I was the first athlete they let in the program. Some big time people have graduated from Syracuse University, Bob Costas and Vanessa Williams.

Moore: You had a very interesting high school career. You lettered in football, basketball and golf. I don’t know too many football players that lettered in golf in high school.

Williams: I played golf because it was a challenge. A lot of people told me that I could only play sports that take brawn to do. So, I played football and basketball. One day, I said to myself that I could play a sport that does not take any brawn. So, I got some golf clubs from my high school principal and played golf. I was not any good but I had a good time.

Moore: Also in high school you were considered a defensive player. You played both sides of the ball but you were the Northeast Defensive Player of the Year your senior year. How were you able to transition from being a defensive player to playing offense?

Williams: That is a wonderful question. Sometimes in football and in life, where you start off is not where you end up. But keeping a positive attitude and working hard, things work out. I was a defensive player, I like hitting people in the mouth and making tackles. I really thought I was going to go to college and be a defensive player. But my team, the Syracuse Orangemen, needed a tight end. The starting tight end flunked out because he was not taking care of business in school. So, they made me a tight end. At first I did not want to be a tight end. But sometimes God has a plan for you – to help you get where you got to go – that you might not understand at the time. But, I am glad that I played tight end.

Moore: I understand that going into your senior year of high school, you attended a football camp at Syracuse University. How did that help you to get a football scholarship at Syracuse University?

Williams: Inside tip for high school athletes. A good way to get noticed is to put yourself in front of college coaches. My father enrolled me in a football camp at Syracuse University. I had a chance to play ball with other guys around the country and to show my skills. It was a beautiful thing.
Instead of seeing me on film, they had an opportunity to see me up close and personal. They saw my love for the game. They called me back, to come to work out for them. They called and talked to my high school coaches. I cut the middle man and went to them directly. I am glad that I went to Syracuse University.

Moore: Another graduate of Syracuse University is Oakland Raiders’ owner, Al Davis. Do you and Mr. Davis talk about Syracuse University?

Williams: Yes, we talk all the time about Syracuse. Al Davis told me he was the first athlete to liftweights at Syracuse. I think he has donated a few million dollars to Syracuse. There are a few wings at the school named after Mr. Davis. It’s been a dream come true to play for the Oakland Raiders and to be around Mr. Davis. Mr. Davis told me that he watched me while I was playing with Syracuse and he had his eye on me while I was playing for the St. Louis Rams. He told me after I won a championship, I was ready to be a Raider.

Moore: I understand that you developed your own foundation that works in the community?

Williams: I developed the Roland Williams Life Line Foundation. The reason I named it the Life Line is – a life line is a means or route by which necessary supplies are transported. What I try to do is give the kids what they need in order to get them where they want to go. One of the big things we do is in my hometown, Rochester, New York, a free Football & Life Skills Camp. We fly in 38 football players in the NFL. Kurt Warner, Jerry Porter and all of the coaches of the Raiders have participated in my camp. We give away 30 computers. Each kid gets about $400 worth of free gear. It’s unbelievable. There is no cost to the students, at least no monetary cost. We require each student to be disciplined, focused, and exert effort. If a student is late – they get kicked out. No eye contact, they get kicked out. So, it’s serious to us that each student is dedicated. We try to give them an idea of what life is really about and what they need to do to reach the highest level of football.
I am currently in the process of trying to bring the camp to Oakland. We hope, we can put it together for the summer because I know that there are a lot of kids in Oakland that can benefit from it.