New England Patriots

Jan 29, 2019; Atlanta, GA: New England Patriots linebacker Elandon Roberts addresses the media during a press conference at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

By Matt Dolloff,

Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls said in a news conference on Friday that he spoke with Patriots linebacker Elandon Roberts, apologizing to him for an incident between him and deputy Adam Watkins from March.

Roberts and his attorney called for internal investigations into possible harassment after Watkins pulled Roberts over for driving 59 mph in a 35 mph zone. Dash cam video revealed that Watkins followed Roberts to his home in the Houston-area suburb of Richmond, ordered forcefully for him to get back in his car, then conducted a lengthy, oddly threatening traffic stop before letting Roberts go.

Nehls admitted that Watkins’ traffic stop was unnecessarily long and he was wrong to also order Roberts’ wife to get back in the house for her safety. The deputy received a “verbal reprimand” for his conduct, via the Associated Press.

The sheriff stopped short of saying that Watkins was wrong to stop Roberts in the first place, because the Patriots linebacker was speeding. Roberts also would have been better served staying in his car at the time of the stop, despite probably being confused since he had pulled all the way into the driveway of his own home.

“The way he interacted with [Roberts’] wife, I didn’t appreciate the tone,” said Nehls.

The sheriff offered no explanation for Watkins’ questionable comments before and during the stop, when he referred to Roberts as “the big black man” when addressing officers on his radio. This wasn’t a search for an unknown suspect. Roberts was being pulled over for a simple speeding violation, so his race was irrelevant to the situation.

Despite all this, Roberts made it clear that he’s not seeking any financial gain from the incident or for any further consequences for Watkins’ behavior. He simply wanted to illuminate what he saw as unfair treatment by a police officer toward an African American, and it appears that the sheriff ultimately agreed with him.

“Unfortunately, these types of things are happening all too often to African Americans,” Roberts said in a statement to USA Today. “People are becoming desensitized to them. Being harassed in your own yard simply because you are a ‘big black man’ should never become the norm. To the person being harassed, it is frightening, disrespectful and embarrassing.”

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at