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Catching up with Roland James

SHARON -- He was a staple in the New England Patriots secondary for 11 NFL seasons and currently sits third all-time on the team’s career list with 27 interceptions.

These days you can still find Roland James on the football sidelines in New England, as head coach of the Sharon football team.

During the winter, James coaches indoor track for Sharon. It's not surprising considering the University of Tennessee football star was also a track All-American.

After retiring from the NFL, James and his wife Carmel decided to stay in the New England area to raise their three children Vernon, 27, Roland Jr., 21, and Roman, 17. He found a niche as a coach in Sharon.

James is coming off a 4-6 season with the Eagles, playing in the very tough Hockomock League, which includes football powers such as Mansfield, which won the Super Bowl this year, Foxborough, and North Attleborough.

"It's a very tough league," said James, who has coached Sharon for eight years. "It's always a very competitive league. It is well coached and you have outstanding schools. We do a pretty good job around here and we are constantly trying to get better each and every year.

"I love working with the kids, seeing them grow up, and develop not only physically and athletically on the football field, but maturely. It's good to be there and support them as much as I can. It's a different world then when I grew up and I think they need as much support as they can get."

Football players aren’t the only athletes who receive support from Jones. James and Carmel are at all the Sharon boys basketball games cheering and yelling for Roman, a senior on the team.

"Between me and my wife I I’m not sure which one is going to get thrown out of the next basketball game," joked James. "We go there and yell and scream with the best of them. We enjoy ourselves and try and stay as connected with our kids as much as possible."

James keeps in touch with former teammates week to week, participating in fund-raising basketball games and flag football games all around the New England area.

Looking back on his career, James takes a tremendous amount of pride playing all of his 11 seasons with the Patriots.

"There is a certain connection that happens when you do that where there are not many other people today who experience anything like that and be there for that amount of time," said James. "The game has changed with free agency and it's a totally different type of game than when I played.

"Our secondary I think we played very well and one of the best things I think we did was the fact that we knew each other and spent so much time together. When we played it was a connecting time and everyone knew each other."

James went through some low times, such as a 1-15 season in his final year in 1990, but also enjoyed some high times such as enjoying an AFC Championship "Squishing the Fish" and a trip to Super Bowl XX against the Chicago Bears in New Orleans.

"The excitement of the Super Bowl or any playoff championship game is something everyone should experience -- it is great," said James. "Not only do you get physically and mentally ready to play the absolute best you can play, you have to go through those highs and lows. It takes a tough-minded person to go through those experiences and still be able to bounce back and be ready to play as hard as you can every play."

The next Super Bowl James wants to experience is with his Sharon football team. Then his players will know exactly what James is talking about.

If you are interested in finding out where or how a former New England Sports Legend is doing these days please write Jon Goode at jgoode@lowellspinners.com.


Roland James
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