By Mick Moninghoff
November 6, 2019
The Massachusetts Pirates have signed defensive end Roosevelt (RJ) Roberts for the 2020 season. After starting the 2019 season with the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League, Roberts returned to Massachusetts appearing in one contest, a 70-51 victory over the New York Streets where he recorded one sack. Roberts appeared in four games with the Pirates in 2018 and was impressive on the defensive front with seven and a half sacks and nine tackles for a loss. The Enterprise, Alabama native notched 11 solo tackles and assisted on four others for a total of 14 and a half. He also recovered one fumble, forced two, blocked a field goal and scored a touchdown, helping the Pirates to a plus seven turnover margin in 2018.
Now Roberts can’t wait for the 2020 season.
“I just feel like It’s another great opportunity. It’s a whole new coaching staff. I just feel like it’s going to be a great season. We’re going to get a lot accomplished. Just being around the guys; the brotherhood and coming together as a team will hopefully see us winning the championship this year,” he said.
Pirates President and General Manager Jawad Yatim knows what Roberts can bring to his team.
“RJ has been with us briefly our previous two seasons but has been impactful every game he’s suited up for us. He’s physically impressive, has a great motor, great work ethic, he’s disruptive regarding rushing the passer and provides versatility in being able to play multiple positions along our front five. He’s one of our veterans and we expect him to be a leader for us this upcoming season. We’re glad to have RJ back on board,” Yatim said.
With Roberts teaming up with fellow All-National Arena League defensive end JD Griggs, the tandem makes up one of the best defensive fronts in the NAL.
“When you have a good defensive line that takes a lot of pressure off of your offense. We can apply pressure to the opposing offense, so it’s a good opportunity to work with JD and I feel like we can both be effective on the edge this year,” he said.
When asked what will get the Pirates to the NAL Championship game this season Roberts said, “Just coming to practice every day, working, getting better and having a great vibe. It’s all the little things. If we do all of the little things this year, even if its just going to meetings, if we just do all of the little things right this year, I feel we can definitely get over the hump,” Roberts proclaimed.
The former Canadian Football League defensive lineman saw action with Saskatchewan in 2011-2012. Roberts began his arena football career in 2013 when he played in ten games for the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena Football League. There he tallied 27 tackles with three sacks, forced two fumbles and recovered three more. 2015 saw Roberts (6’4” 260 lbs.) return to the CFL and the Grey Cup Champion Edmonton Eskimos. That same season the Troy University product played with the Hudson Valley Fort of the Fall Experimental Football League. In 2016 Roberts also had a stint with Sioux Falls in the Indoor Football League.
Now as Roberts enters his tenth season of professional football, he says he still has the drive to improve every year.
“It’s been in my heart for so long. Growing up playing football, basketball and baseball; it’s a drive to get better and a drive that God gave me another opportunity to be able to play the game of football, that’s a blessing. You have to keep working every day, keep grinding, keep hustling and each year be better than I was the year before,” he said.
The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the National Arena League (NAL). The Pirates play all home games at the DCU Center located at 50 Forster St. Worcester, MA, 01608. Pirates season tickets for the 2020 season are now available starting at $99.00. For more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email [email protected] or visit www.masspiratesfootball.com. Follow the Pirates on Facebook, at Facebook.com/MAPirates, on Instagram @mass.pirates, as well as on Twitter @mass_pirates.