In what came as a surprise to no one, linebacker Rolando McClain was released by the Oakland Raiders this week.
McClain’s track record is admittedly mediocre—if not dreadful—but that record isn’t entirely the fault of McClain. The Raiders seemed more intent on the fact that he had talent rather than wanting to nurture and develop that talent. When his personal problems began to manifest themselves in the form of arrests off the field and conflicts within the locker room, the Raiders decided to tune out and opt out. The fact that the Raiders’ powers-that-be hardly addressed the obvious issues going on with McClain was shameful and short-sighted.
The talent was indisputably present at the beginning of McClain’s tenure with the Raiders. Awards such as SEC Defensive Player of the Year aren’t just handed to any average college linebacker. Perhaps the overwhelming combination of being a highly-touted NFL Draft pick, the money that came with the signing of that draft pick and being uprooted to a new home thousands of miles away was too much for him to handle effectively. That by no means excuses his behavior, but the combination certainly contributed to it. With no guidance to direct him, the results speak for themselves.
All things considered, could he be an option for the Atlanta Falcons? Maybe, but only just. The if’s, and’s or but’s involved may not be worth the venture.
If the Falcons are willing to accept McClain’s tarnished personal past and allow the stellar coaching staff to work with McClain to rediscover his lost talent, much could be possible. But, in all likelihood, that won’t happen. The Falcons take pride in their players staying on the straight and narrow. John Abraham was arrested on two misdemeanor obstruction charges in 2012; also in 2012, Michael Turner was charged with driving under the influence and speeding. Both are now former Falcons. Remember Eugene Robinson’s arrest the night before Super Bowl XXXIII? He’s also a now-former Falcon. The arrests weren’t the only reason they are no longer with the Falcons, but the implications can’t be denied.
If McClain is willing to get the help he needs and work with (and not against) all parties involved to resolve his own issues, perhaps he could find his way back to the talented young man he undoubtedly left behind when he moved to California. But, at this point, that appears to be a dark tunnel with no light at the end of it.
As of now, McClain has moved back to Alabama. Hopefully, getting back to his roots is the first step in bringing back the aptitude that has been unnecessarily buried for far too long.