By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Elandon Roberts has had an eventful year. Winning the Super Bowl was just the beginning.
Earlier this year, Roberts got married. He and his wife welcomed a baby girl into the world together on Aug. 22 – mere hours before he played in the Patriots’ preseason dress rehearsal. The typically reticent Patriots linebacker beamed as he brought it up.
So all things considered, being named a team captain is a relatively small honor for Roberts compared to the moments he’s had over the past several months. But inside the walls of Gillette Stadium, the linebacker has steadily risen from sixth-round pick to team leader as he enters his fourth season as one of the more unheralded pieces of a deep linebacking corps.
But Roberts obviously did something right to earn the captaincy, a distinction he shares with teammate Dont’a Hightower and many other revered Patriots linebackers. It’s not as if Roberts did anything differently to become a team captain. Just being his humble, hard-working self proved enough to reach that level.
“There’s no book on how to be a leader. It’s just kind of comes,” Roberts told reporters Friday. “Like I said, it was a humbling experience. My teammates wanted me to be one of their captains, and I’m going to respect the role each day.”
Roberts is a classic “lead by example” type who exemplifies the toughness and selflessness that Bill Belichick wants out of everyone on the defense. He can reliably patrol the middle of the field and keep running backs honest with his physicality. He’ll prove valuable on the field when the Patriots face a number of dynamic backs on their 2019 schedule like Le’Veon Bell, Saquon Barkley, Nick Chubb, Mark Ingram, and Ezekiel Elliott.
Obviously, Belichick massively values the off-field contributions he gets from his newest captain.
“His whole career, from Morgan State to Houston to here, he probably wasn’t a very highly recognized player when we drafted him, but he’s probably one of the most unselfish players that we have on our team,” Belichick said Friday. “He’ll do whatever he can to help the team in any way. He’s also one of the toughest and most physical players on the team as well. He really is a tempo setter, an impact hitter, but his intelligence and his awareness and how hard he studies the game – football is very important to him, and that’s reflected in the way he approaches it and the way he plays it.
“He’s gained a lot of knowledge and a much greater understanding, both individually for his position and much greater depth in terms of the overall. What the offense is trying to do, defensive strengths and weaknesses of individual calls and so forth. So he’s grown tremendously in those areas as well, but just as a teammate, I’m sure the players voted for him because of his toughness, his unselfishness, his dependability, his willingness to do whatever it takes to help the team win. You can’t ask for anything more than that.”
Roberts joins Hightower, Tom Brady, David Andrews, Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater, and James White as the Patriots’ team captains for the 2019 season. In linebacking lore, he joins a company of captains that includes Willie McGinest, Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, and Jerod Mayo.
He’s a football player to his core and has elevated himself in the Patriots locker room by just “doing him”. There’s a good chance his approach translates to being a good captain, too.
“Like I said, it’s humbling because you know the guys that have been in the meetings. It’s a role that you shouldn’t, and I feel like none of those guys that were in the role, took it lightly,” Roberts said. “I’m going to do the best in this role for my team.”
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.