Myron Rolle was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in 2010.
The former Florida State Seminole had just spent a year in England studying medical anthropology at the University of Oxford. Rolle, selected as a Rhodes Scholar upon his graduation from FSU, chose books over bone-crushing hits.
So what happened? This week, writer Aaron Gordon penned an extensive look at why Rolle’s NFL career came up short. The piece, written for SB Nation, asserts the reason has nothing to do with Rolle’s play on the field:
It was not Rolle who was uninterested in the NFL, but the NFL who was uninterested in him, or perhaps even scared to have him around. He never kept his desire to become a neurosurgeon a secret, and by 2010, the brain trauma issue in the NFL began to metastasize and enter public consciousness. Given Rolle’s activism on health care-related issues while at Florida State and Oxford, it’s easy to see teams imagining Rolle becoming an unofficial spokesperson on brain trauma, just as Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo took on similar roles concerning gay rights. Significantly, both were released in 2013.
Gordon’s conclusion isn’t so much startling as it is sad. Much was made of Rolle’s decision to accept his Rhodes Scholarship then and the same questions persist to this day – What if?
Rolle says his conversations with some Titans’ coaches had more to do with his off-the-field pursuits than his football IQ:
Going for the Rhodes, it really put a label on me that was hard to shake, and frankly I don’t think that I did shake it.
Paul Kuharsky disagrees. He covers the Tennessee Titans for ESPN and said other players simply “outranked” Rolle on the field:
What the league wants, first and foremost, isn’t just guys who will play football, and play along. It’s guys who will play football well. The Titans would have loved for Rolle to have worked out. Any team would love for a sixth-round pick to be a solid contributor or more […]
I don’t believe a question about his commitment or a fear of his brain prompted them to steer away. There was a far simpler reason he didn’t make it.
He wasn’t a good enough player.
Rolle is still tapped by his alma-mater to help recruits see the benefits of both athletics and receiving an education. He’s intensely loyal to the Seminoles because of all he says the program did for him when he was a student athlete.
For now, he’s just a student – but this is certainly not the last time the sports world will hear from him.
Follow theGrio.com’s Todd Johnson on Twitter @rantoddj