Nearly one year ago this week, the Ravens agreed to a one year, $700K deal for troubled ex-Raiders middle linebacker, Rolando McClain. McClain was released by the Raiders after three underwhelming years in Oakland after being selected eighth overall in the draft. The once captain of the 2009 National Champions, Alabama Crimson Tide, couldn’t stay out of trouble.
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I wouldn’t call someones rap sheet “impressive”, but it’s quite long. McClain allegedly hit a fellow student with his car on UA’s campus in 2008. In January 2011, McClain had his Chevy Tahoe shot at while driving through his hometown of Decatur, Alabama. He was arrested in December of 2011 for third degree assault, menacing, reckless endangerment, and firing a gun in public. What went down was McClain beat a man to the ground, pointed a gun to the victims head, and pulled the trigger after moving the barrel of the gun inches from the victims head when the he begged for his life. He bought his way out of that incident offering a financial settlement to the victim which was accepted. McClain was sentenced to 180 days in jail by Decatur Municipal Court, of which he spent none when the victim did not testify against McClain in his appeal at the circuit court level. In January 2013, McClain was arrested once again, this time for giving an officer a fake identity (writing “[expletive] you” as his signature) when asked to sign the ticket he was getting for having illegal window tint.
McClain was getting his release from the Raiders and it should have been a wake up call to get his life together.
He bought a $1M house with his signing bonus money in Madison, Alabama, 16 miles from Decatur. He lives there with his wife, Cynthia, and their two sons. He bought the house outright with his bonus money, knowing that should his career end, it would be a financial advantage not to have a mortgage hanging over his head. A smart, adult decision made by McClain. Signs of maturity. Could McClain be righting his ship of life?
Upon moving into the new neighborhood, the local paper, Madison Weekly News, got an exclusive one on one interview with McClain. Here are some of the quotes.
“It’s not about me anymore as now I have two sons and a wonderful wife and we want to take it slow and make our way into the community in a positive way. I’m a home body. I like to fish and we go out on the boat and enjoy relaxing as a family as often as we can.”
“When you come into some money, some people think you owe them and they want some of your money, but I tried to always stay true to who I am,” said McClain. “My wife has completely changed me. She’s made me mellow, softer.”
“I love my friends and my city and I won’t turn my back on them. I just need to make better decisions in my life. I won’t be making as many visits to Decatur.”
McClain hopes his new home and family life is exactly what he needs to make positive changes in his life. He and Cynthia read the bible daily. They are currently looking for a new church to attend. When he is not working out for his talents as a football player, McClain is busy taking care of his two sons and now puts off other distractions. He’s really settling in on the duties of fatherhood.
It was late January 2013 when Rolando McClain purchased his new home, and gave the interview to the Madison Weekly News.
Two months later the Ravens and an apparently forgiving, remorseful, more mature Rolando McClain agreed to terms on the deal that would give him second chance in the NFL. It took less than two weeks of being employed again for McClain to return to Decatur, and end up in bracelets once again. This time it would be for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. When a crowd gathered around an incident involving McClain in a park after someone spit on his car, police ordered everyone to clear out of the park. As the crowd dispersed, McClain shouted out “[expletive] the police.” When he was going to be cuffed, McClain jerked his arms away, resisting arrest.
He won’t be making as many visits to Decatur? Seemed like one visit was one too many. His wife changed him to a mellower, softer person? I guess, not so much. Righting the ship? No way.
After three arrests in 16 months, one of which occurred 10 days after signing with the Ravens, McClain retired from pro football just 32 days into his tenure with Baltimore. The Ravens retained his rights should he change his mind about retirement.
On March 12, 2014 at Alabama’s pro day, McClain was in attendance and addressed the media about a possible return to the NFL in 2014. He is attending classes in Tuscaloosa, 137 miles from troublesome Decatur. McClain will have earned his degree in business management with just two more classes this summer. The same factors in his decision to return to football are the same ones that led him to retire. Focus is on finishing his degree, keeping his personal life in order, and staying in shape.
Speaking of staying in shape, one quote of his was interesting. “I’m only 24, so it’s hard to get out of shape.” No, Rolando, it’s not hard to get out of shape. Or else we would all be pro athletes. How serious is he about wanting to make that return? If he had god given ability, teams would put up with the distractions, the off field issues, because performance ultimately wins out in the end. Sad to say but it’s true. He never lived up to his first round selection. Coupled with the arrests, it made him that much easier for the Raiders to get rid of. It made McClain that much easier for many teams to pass on him when he became available.
According to the Carroll County Times, Matt Zenitz, Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti called McClain’s return to Alabama “very admirable” and said he would be “all for” bringing him back if Ozzie Newsome approved it. “It’s got to be hard getting a multi-million dollar contract and finding yourself back at Alabama taking classes with 19-year olds,” Bisciotti said. “So the fact he’s done that says a lot to me.”
Head Coach, John Harbaugh, said he would welcome McClain “if he can help the team. It depends on how hard McClain is working and how much he has matured,”
I’m a firm believer in second chances. But we’re talking third or more chances here. McClain already played the whole, I’m a family man, church going, bible reading, studies and my wife and kids are my priorities cards. That turned out to be a lie. He was in a completely preventable situation when he continued to show disrespect for authority like he had before. McClain fell back into his old ways after appearing to be a changed man.
It’s great that he is getting a degree. Maybe he can put it to use and benefit society. Maybe he can raise two young sons to be better men then he has been to this point.
McClain is once again looking like a changed man, but we’ve seen this before. What happens when McClain gets that degree this summer? What happens when he could come to Baltimore and he isn’t grounded by a wife and kids anymore? What happens when you drop another near million bucks in his bank account and his “old friends” come a calling? What kind of man will Rolando McClain be when he is thrust back into the world that led him to trouble in the first place?
What will happen the next time the inevitable happens? Rolando McClain visits Decatur, Alabama. It’s naive to think he won’t go back there again where he’s made enemies over the years.
McClain is pondering a return in 2014 and I’m going to say just from a football standpoint that isn’t likely to happen. If he gets his degree this summer, he’ll be taking his final exams August 1st. Football isn’t his priority until he completes school. He’ll have missed the Ravens OTAs, mandatory minicamps, and the team will be about a week into training camp. They’ll be playing their first preseason game a week after that. I usually don’t speculate, but I’ll guess he’s not in as good of shape as he thinks he’s in since he apparently can’t be in bad shape at age 24, according to McClain. You can’t flip a switch and say, “ok, I‘m going to play football now,” and expect to make an impact.
If Rolando McClain wants to be taken seriously about making a return, set a return date in 2015. He’ll still be young enough, entering his age 26 season. If he can make it until next offseason without any run ins with the law, that would be close to two full years clean. That’s pretty impressive considering his arrest frequency in the past. After completing school, train hard for football. Commit to it. Use the training to fill the void left by what was going to class. Don’t fill that void by taking trips to see old friends. Talk to the Ravens and ask them what they expect from you between August 2, 2014, and March 2015 when the new season starts.
At this point, Rolando McClain hasn’t had any contact with the Ravens staff.