By Aime Mukendi
Butch Rolle is a former tight end that played eight seasons in the National Football League. Rolle was a seventh-round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills in 1986 and finished his career as a member of the Arizona Cardinals. He played in the Bills’ first two Super Bowl appearances.
“It was very exciting,” Rolle said. “It’s something that every player who plays in the National Football League wants to get a chance to do. I was fortunate. It was fun watching the media. That’s the most fun part. That whole week is just a different vibe with the media and all the attention surrounding it. That’s the most memorable part.”
Rolle played alongside Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly for five years. Although the Bills used Rolle more for his blocking, he held a streak of 10 consecutive receptions for touchdowns in 1991. He finished his career with 11 total touchdowns, but given how offenses use tight ends now his numbers would be different if he played in the league today.
“It’s bigger and faster for sure. The game has grown as far as speed and size. I think it depends on the coach, ” Rolle said. “Today tight ends are definitely a big part of the offense they’re more receivers. I was a big strong guy and strong blocker so I would be able to use that to my advantage. I think I would have been in a better position to catch more passes in this era.”
Buffalo has not made the postseason since the 1999 season, and fans are hoping rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel can change that.
Former players like Rolle also hope Manuel can change that.
“I always look to see who they’re going to draft,” Rolle said. “A good quarterback is always well deserved and well needed. I’ll go on the record and say they haven’t had a good quarterback since my boy Jim Kelly was there. It’s hard to replace a Hall of Fame guy like that.”
Manuel is expected to start the season opener against the New England Patriots after undergoing a minor procedure on his knee for an injury suffered against the Minnesota Vikings in the third week of the preseason.
“I hope E.J. becomes healthy, so he can contribute,” Rolle said. “Quarterback is a tough position. As long as he can stay healthy and he can learn the game quick enough where he’s not making mistakes, he should be fine.”
Rolle’s favorite moment in his football career was when he received the call on draft day from the Bills.
“That was my favorite moment in sports,” Rolle said. “That’s what I worked for all my life.”
Rolle also played in the Arena Football League for a couple of years. He now coaches football at his old high school, works as a real estate agent and recently became a professional in IFBB men’s physique. Although he has kept himself busy in life after football, Rolle admits he misses the game.
“I miss the excitement of the game,” Rolle said. ” I miss the locker room, the guys joking around having fun, the crowd and going out on Sunday. I wish we could play this game until we were 50.”