SEATTLE — The spotlight rarely shines on an offensive lineman.
When it does, it’s usually when a missed block gets the quarterback sacked or a holding penalty wipes out a big play.
Michael Roos has made a career of not being noticed. The Mountain View High School graduate has been one of the most dependable offensive tackles in the National Football League since being drafted by Tennessee in 2005.
Sunday, about 20 family and friends watched Roos at CenturyLink Field as the Titans faced the Seahawks.
So consistent is Roos’ presence on the Titans line, it was news when he missed a game last October after having surgery to remove his appendix. It snapped his streak of 119 consecutive games played, which dated to his first game in 2005 and is second longest streak for an offensive tackle in NFL history.
“I try to take care of myself and play hard,” Roos said after Sunday’s game. “That’s about it. Anything can happen at any time, so you never know. I don’t have a secret.”
The Titans have had seven 1,000-yard rushers in Roos’ eight seasons. During that time, Tennessee has allowed the fourth-fewest number of sacks in the NFL. A Pro Bowl selection in 2008, Roos was voted team captain this summer.
Roos is an unlikely NFL success story. He spent the first 10 years of his life in Estonia, then part of the USSR, where his family lived in poverty. To get by, his mother taught violin lessons during the day and manned a hotel desk at night. In 1992, one year after the Soviet Union collapsed, Roos immigrated with his mother and two siblings to Vancouver, where they lived with an aunt.
At Mountain View, Roos focused mostly on basketball and became one of the Greater St. Helens League’s top players, averaging more than 20 points per game his senior year. He didn’t play football until his senior year, but that was enough to earn a scholarship to Eastern Washington University, where coaches loved his combination of size and agility.
Roos has more than returned the favor to the university that molded him into a second-round draft pick. He and his wife, Katherine, donated $500,000 to install red turf at the Eagles’ home field, which now bears his name.
Roos also established the Michael Roos Foundation, which was created “to offer encouragement, comfort and support to children enduring profound emotional, physical, mental or financial distress.”
Roos has started each of Tennessee’s six games this season. He was bothered by a sore back during the summer, but shows no signs of slowing down.
“I’ll go until my body tells me I can’t play anymore,” Roos said. “I feel good for being in my ninth year.”
His coaches and teammates hope Roos has at least a few more years in him.
“We probably won’t appreciate him until he’s gone, unfortunately,” Titans offensive line coach Bruce Matthews told Grantland.com for a story about the NFL’s most underappreciated players. “He’s such a solid guy and so consistent, that when the void’s there, it’s going to be, ‘Oh yeah, we took him for granted.’ That’s the highest form of praise for an offensive lineman.”