What does it say that college football, warts and all, is more comfortable with a person of great character than the NFL is?
Filed under College Football, Life After Football
Myron Rolle found out the boardrooms of the NFL Business don’t like slaves who learn to read.
This was a good read, though I don’t really buy that the NFL shied away from Rolle because he was a Rhodes Scholar. He was a good but not great player in college, which means a marginal pro talent. However, I do agree that the NFL probably would have been uncomfortable with him if he was able to stick around. He might well have questioned – and/or led others to question – the status quo in the locker and trainer’s rooms, and the league wouldn’t have liked that.
Its a shame, because he was a football player.
Choosing academics over athletics is good advice for a sixth grader. Not for a 20 year old looking squarely at a guaranteed contract for 7 figures. That academic advisor should not be allowed around children. Good Lord what a grossly negligent self serving bad piece of aggressive influence she had on Rolle. I feel sad for him, really.
Advising against pursuing a Rhodes Scholarship in order to chase an NFL dream would completely and utterly bastardize the entire meaning of the word student athlete. But then again, it wouldn’t surprise me either.
Also, and I didn’t read the entire article so excuse me if this was covered, but I’m very surprised that there wasn’t some type of deferral option available to him given his unique situation.
I disagree just because this was such a unique situation. If anything his situation reinforced what a great student athlete he was. If you’re talking about a guy who was trying to catch on as a free agent, I’d agree with you. But realistically we are talking about a first round guarantee of 7 figures which would have accomplished a life goal, RIGHT in front of him. How could you possibly advise someone to turn that down especially if it clearly jeopardized that goal and that guaranteed money? I can answer that: because you are lifer in academia and can’t stand the thought of such a bright young mind pursuing sports, even if it guaranteed him at a minimum the opportunity to pay for med school and at a maximum to comfortably be able to feed his kids, their kids, and their kids.
I think I recall the Rhodes drawing a hard line. Perhaps my memory is off.
Fair point regarding seeking the opinion of a lifer in academia as opposed to a more unbiased perspective, but I seriously doubt any of them realized at the time how significant of an impact it would have on his draft stock.
Being a Rhodes scholar will open up any door he’ll ever want. He’s smart as hell and will make lifetime earnings of way more than the guaranteed $2-3M a possible first round pick would have paid simply because he took the Rhodes scholarship. I would presume that ten years into his medical practice as a neurosurgeon he’ll be making comparable money, and remarkably he’ll have about 30 more years of prime earning capacity.
Under every financial scenario, the Rhodes scholarship was the correct decision. That is, unless you want to speculate that he would have done extremely well in the NFL if he hadn’t done Rhodes, with huge endorsement deals and such. But that is speculation of the same type he faced when he chose to be a Rhodes scholar, and the evidence suggests that he was never going to be a superstar.
They should give that lifelong academia person a damn raise for not letting the kid get concussed in the NFL.
Sorry for the delayed response, Spence.
“Being a Rhodes scholar will open up any door he’ll ever want.”
Including going to med school at… Florida State. Is that really what you call opening doors? It’s pretty clear he had two goals in life, and one was right in front of him. The guy WANTED to play football (in addition to neurosurgery). The article indicates he was devestated when the NFL didn’t pan out. Also note he actually came BACK to football after Rhodes. So we know he WANTED to play footbal in addition to neurosurgery and the evidence was there that the Rhodes scholarship may jeopardize that opportunity. Conversely, he could have entered the draft, been taken in the first round and paid first round guaranteed money, and been given a much longer leash on succeeding there. Shortly after that (3-7 years), he could have retired early with millions in his bank account, and gone back the FSU Med School (Rhodes not required) and gone on to be a neurosurgeon because he’d still be well within his prime earning capacity, as you mention. Most people go straight into med school because the NFL isn’t sitting out there (and length of residency etc. matters because there isn’t another revenue source).
You guys are assuming if he had gone to pro football he would have been forced to stay there forever. Not true, if he wanted to pursue neurosurgery as well. The point I’m making is that he had two goals in life and the NFL could not wait but being a neurosurgeon could. Again, Rhodes Scholar is incredibly impressive, but not a precursor to being a neurosurgeon (and certainly not a precursor to getting into FSU med school where he is now). Who are we (or his academic advisor) to say the Rhodes Scholarship was clearly the better option when we know the kid had a dream of playing pro football.
While I respect all of your opinions, this is still a clear cut decision for me, looking through the lens of Myron Rolle’s clearly stated goals in life.
You also assume that he would have been chosen in the first round and given the guaranteed seven figure salary that accompanies a first round draft pick. Just because the NFL advisory board or some scout grades you out as a first round draft pick it does not guarantee that you will be selected in the first round and given first round money. There are plenty of players that think they will be taken earlier than they are because they were told they would, only to fall into the later rounds. One such example is Da’quan Bowers – many had him as a top 3 pick in the draft but he fell to 51st due to questions about his durability. Thus, Rolle could have disregarded his opportunity at a Rhodes Scholarship, entered the draft, and then ended up as 4th or 5th round pick without the millions of dollars of guaranteed money you speak of while at the same time permanently closing the door on his Rhodes Scholarship opportunity and the avenues that the scholarship could open for him. I don’t think this is as clear cut as you make it out to be.
I already clarified earlier that my comments are based on him being a bona fide first round pick. Based on this from the article:
“After the 2008 season, Scout.com projected Rolle as the 18th pick in the first round of the upcoming draft, and commented, “This might be way too low,” calling him “a prototype NFL safety.”
I’d say it’s safe to say he’d have gone pretty high. The Bowers analogy is flawed because he had obvious injury issues (had knee surgery in January right before the draft). To my knowledge, Rolle did not. Even with his precipitous and surprising drop, Bowers got $2.2M guaranteed with up to almost $4M possible over four years. And he was an NFL player, a stated goal of Rolle. Has a projected first rounder EVER droppped to the “4th or 5th round” or are you just using that for hyperbole?
As for “…his Rhodes Scholarship opportunity and the avenues that the scholarship could open for him,” I’ve already mentioned above that the Rhodes scholarship landed him a spot in the med school at FSU. Nothing wrong with that, but not exactly prestigious stuff, relative to other med schools out there.
I’m sure Myron will do well at whatever he decides to do. I’m just saying he received extremely poor advice when one of his life goals was right in front of him.
I think you’re wildly discounting the Rhodes scholarship here. Yes, he “just” went to FSU med school, but we don’t know what role that played. More importantly, being a Rhodes scholar will make a huge difference later in his life as a doctor as he’s up for promotions and positions of various importance. Most doctors don’t just do doctoring, and he’ll be able to do tons based on this, even if he “just” got into FSU med.
Exactly, I thought a deferral option would’ve been a logical choice. The 40 speed clearly was a concern, but I do remember contemporaneously reading an article about how he had a buddy come and live over in the UK with him just to serve as his workout guru.
Here’s some contemporaneous talk about him pre-draft, which is a little disgusting:
During the combine, former Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick said Rolle’s situation comes down to “a character issue.” It not about personal conduct, but whether Rolle is totally committed to playing pro football. Billick also said Rolle’s intellect can be a hindrance on the field: “If you want to create hesitation on a guy, make him think. This guy can’t help but think.”
Yeah, that’s a pretty dumb statement considering they had plenty of film on him that proves the contrary.
Normally ignorance like that doesn’t bother me because it’s unlikely that it is shared by every person in a position of influence and therefore the ignorance will eventually get exposed when someone takes a chance and it works out well. In his case it doesn’t really seem like that’s the way it happened though.
Darrell Royal said it best: “I want a guy to play for me who is smart, but not too smart. If he’s too smart he won’t play this silly game in the first place.” NFL coaches and GMs think like that, unfortunately.
And a majority of fans, too.
Billick had no problem with a dumbshit linebacker who allowed his posse to murder two young men in Atlanta. I’m pretty sure Billick didn’t let character flaws influence his roster if the player was big, fast and nasty.
For turning down the NFL for a year for the chance to be a Rhodes Scholar?
His two goals in life (clearly stated in the article) were to play in the NFL and become a neurosurgeon. The NFL did not jeopardize his opportunity to be a neurosurgeon. In fact, it probably would have enhanced the opportunity as he would have had money to pay for med school. Neither required him to be a Rhodes Scholar. But the Rhodes Scholarship jeopardized his opportunity to fulfill his NFL dream when it was right in front of him. The NFL draft projection guaranteed one goal. Did the Rhodes Scholarship guarantee he would fulfill the dream of being a neurosurgeon? Again, the decision seems fairly simple to me.
Puffdawg, are you serious? All we know about brain trauma and head injuries in football, and you can say with a straight face that “the NFL did not jeopardize his opportunity to be a neurosurgeon”? Hey, if a year off to use his brain can soften his body, wouldn’t you think 6-8 years bashing his brain would soften that?
Different strokes right? Not many things I wouldn’t advise my child to turn down for a Rhodes Scholarship.
Neither would I.
Neurosurgeons (especially ones who do thinks like accept Rhodes scholarships) make NFL money, but for a hell of a lot longer career. Med school plus residency for a neurosurgeon is at least 10 years…. after an NFL career? I think not.
I found it ironic that the NCAA is seemingly doing all that it can about concussions and meanwhile the coaches are enticing their athletes to partake in boxing matches. I chuckled a little bit when I got to that part… not gonna lie.
Yeah, me too. But, I LOVED that he did some research and whipped dudes ass.
Myron Rolle is the epitome of student-athlete. Good luck to him in med school and beyond. He’ll make more of a difference as a neurosurgeon than most any NFL player could ever hope for. Maybe he’s the next Dr. Ben Carson …
Good piece. Stories like this are disturbing on several different levels. What a warped sense of values and ideals we have in our culture. Sadly, for many young people, it extends well beyond the locker rooms and practice fields to our schools and neighborhoods.
I think the NFL wants guys that can play. Can this dude help me win a game. That’s pretty much all their asking.
I don’t really watch the NFL anymore, and stories like this are a big part of the reason why. How does the Hunter Thompson quote go? I saw this one plenty of cubicles on TV stations across the country:
“The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.” San Francisco Examiner, November 4, 1985.
Great article, and the supposition that the NFL doesn’t want a smart guy/neurosurgeon in their midst highly likely.
Rather my son be a Rhodes Scholar than pro football player
If he received an 80 million dollar contract, played that out, then went to med school, his entire family could be taken care of for generations. You sir are an idiot. Just because you’re 33 doesn’t mean you cannot earn a med degree. I know many people that age that went back to school to become doctors. Honestly, I want to punch people in the face who make comments like that because they think an education bests all. The reason you get an education is to gain knowledge so you can find a decent job and provide for others. He could pursue both avenues. Once you’re dead that’s it and your family isn’t going to prosper on the fact that their relative once went to med school… However 1,000,000 in a trust fund maybe might help future family members succeed.
I musta missed the part about the $80 million contract…was that in the story?
I don’t think that one is likely to become a brain surgeon after 10-15 years of beating his brain against his skull at high speeds. Rolle may not have become more than a role player in the NFL, but he’ll be a difference maker in life regardless.
The NFL doesn’t deserve a man of his calibre.
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