Rolando McClain was the 8th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Just three years later, right before the start of this season (and right after yet another arrest in Decatur, AL), he retired from the game and moved back home to Alabama.
It was easy to give McClain a hard time, because he did things like sign his name as “Fuck y’all” and appeared as though he was throwing away a fantastic opportunity. But McClain gave an interview to ESPN The Magazine that comes out this week, and what we’re hearing so far makes us want to applaud him.
McClain’s anger at the world was easy to see — happy people don’t get arrested as often as he did. But this one chilling line shows us how close McClain was to doing something stupid:
“I felt like Aaron Hernandez, like I just wanted to kill somebody.”
First of all, we should note that Aaron Hernandez has not been convicted of killing anybody to this point. Now that we’ve gotten that legality out of the way: Wow. McClain has a lot more self-awareness than I originally gave him credit for.
More from the article:
He started to lose his love for the game and kept getting into trouble off the field. In December 2011, he was arrested in a shooting. In January 2013, he was arrested for having his car windows tinted too dark and for providing a false identity to police. Ten days after signing with the Ravens, he was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
McClain felt that if he stayed on the same path, he “would have ended up locked in a cage like an animal. That had to be the only outcome.”
Raised in a single-parent home with guns, violence and drugs all around him, McClain ran away at 15 and lived on friends’ couches. Football was an outlet for his growing anger. But he said “football was my mask.”
He has thought about attending therapy but isn’t sure.
“I don’t know if I’m ready to know, man, why I was so angry,” he said.
I think this is an emotional state we can all identify with. Good on McClain for recognizing where he was headed and changing his destiny.
Photo via Getty