Rolando McClain Suddenly Retires From the NFL at 23

Dale Perth | Updated May 15, 2013


Another troubling story of a can’t-miss prospect is being written in the National Football League. Linebacker Rolando McClain, who was supposed to be replacing certain Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, is out of football at the age of 23.

Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome made the surprising announcement on Wednesday, which happens to be Lewis’ 38th birthday. “Rolando let me know that he plans to retire from the NFL,” Newsome told the media, but gave no reason for the decision.

It started off with so much promise. McClain starred with the Alabama Crimson Tide, winning both the Lambert Award and the Dick Butkus Award in 2009. He was named a first-team All-American and was a big part of the BCS Championship-winning squad in 2010. He decided to forgo his senior year of college, and the Oakland Raider picked him eighth overall in the NFL draft.

McClain signed a deal with Oakland reported to be for five years and $40 million, and he would finish the 2010 season with 85 tackles, 0.5 sacks and an interception. The world seemed to be his for the taking. But then, according to coaches, he began making poor calls within games. They would start replacing him with Miles Burris.

Then he was kicked out of a team meeting in 2012 over a still-unspecified “incident.” McClain revealed his frustration on social media, saying on his Facebook page that he was “mentally done” with the Raiders and wished “to be anywhere besides here (Oakland).” The club released him on April 13 of this year.

Nine days later, McClain signed a one-year $700,000 deal with Baltimore, but Newsome made it clear that he expected McClain to be on his best behavior. Several days after that, he was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, his third run-in with the law in 16 months. (The image included with this story was taken as McClain was being led into a police car.)

He is not alone. There is also the sad story of former receiver Titus Young, who has been arraigned on eight felony charges relating to two separate incidents last week where the former Detroit Lion broke into a home, then was caught trying to break into an impound lot in an apparent effort to retrieve his car.

Athletes are expected to be disciplined when it comes to their bodies; their minds, seemingly, are another story. All we can hope for is that both McClain and Young get the help they need.