By now, most college football fans and a lot of NFL fans are now familiar with the story of Myron Rolle. For those who haven’t heard of him, Rolle is a NFL prospect at safety and former FSU standout (and is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated). Rolle didn’t play football during his senior season at FSU, but not because of injury, grades or disciplinary reasons. Rolle spent last year at Oxford earning a M.A. in Medical Anthropology on a Rhodes Scholarship. In case you missed that, dude is a friggin’ Rhodes Scholar.
You would think, that would improve his draft stock if anything, right? He stayed in good shape, and is clearly smart enough to play a position in the NFL that requires an intelligent player. He’s the guy smart enough to be the valedictorian and good enough to be the captain of the football team. Not only will you not have to worry about him embarrassing your organization off the field, dude wants to go to med school after the NFL. Model citizen right?
Well for some NFL teams, that’s not the case. In a league plagued by the Pac Man Jones, Matt Jones, Odell Thurmans, and Leonard Littles (he killed a mother driving drunk, then got another DUI after that) of the world, a guy like Rolle should be a breath of fresh air. Yet, some teams seem to prefer the guy likely to be at the bar/club all weekend over the guy who might pick up a book after he finishes film study.
The knock on Rolle, appears to be that some teams question his commitment to the game because he wants to be a doctor down the road. During interviews at the combine, he was even asked how it felt to “abandon” his teammates last year while studying abroad. The case of Rolle shows the true colors of the NFL.
The NFL is the most brutal, vicious and unforgiving sports league in America. Players literally put their health and livelihood on the line each week, and are rewarded with non-guaranteed contracts and pressure to play through serious injuries, bone breaks and bruises, muscle tears and concussions (which has lead to the early death of many a football player, recent studies are showing). Many of the pioneers of the multi-billion dollar industry, those who played in the 50s-70s end up dying in poor health and poor finances.
If you last long enough in the league, you’ll gain the privilege of being tossed aside by a team you’ve dedicated a decade of health too – see Brian Westbrook, LaDanian Tomlinson. Many professional athletes often struggle to find something to do after they retire and several end up facing economic hardships as a result. And you only have to see Earl Campbell limp around at Hall of Fame inductions once to realize that players like Tiki Barber and Robert Smith who retired “prematurely” probably did the right thing.
If anything, the league should use Myron Rolle as a role model. Here’s a guy with two degrees that’s good enough to be an early round draft pick and make millions of dollars, yet still has a plan for life after football.
Fortunately for Rolle, he will be drafted in an early round and will be given a chance to play. Pay attention to who drafts him too. Don’t be surprised if one of the smarter organizations, in terms of player management, ends up with Rolle. I know one thing’s for sure, he probably isn’t even on the Bengals draft board.