This wasn’t supposed to happen; Rolando McClain was supposed to be the ideal middle linebacker who was the quarterback of the defense. McClain was the brains of the all-world Alabama defense that won a national championship. NFL draft experts proclaimed that McClain was a can’t miss prospect and that Al Davis would be crazy to pass on him. When the Oakland Raiders drafted McClain with the eighth pick in the 2010 NFL draft, it seemed like the Raiders had started a new era.
From the very beginning McClain seemed like a great fit for the silver and black. Before training camp even began, McClain requested the defensive playbook so he could know all the terminology before the rest of his teammates. At the start of training camp, McClain was the clear number one linebacker on the team and was fast becoming the quarterback of the defense. During his first start in front of the raucous Raider nation, McClain suplexed a wide receiver who had run a crossing route. Raiders fans rejoiced as they finally had a Raider who could hang with the defenders of the glory days.
Fast forward to the end of McClain’s second season as a Raider and things are not looking so bright. Head coach Hue Jackson finally has the Raiders on a playoff run and it’s looking like the Raiders are a lock to win the AFC West. McClain is visiting his hometown Decatur, AL because of a death in the family and BOOM, his career implodes. While with some friends McClain gets into an altercation which involves a loaded handgun. He is arrested and a local journalist takes an infamous picture where McClain looks happy while in handcuffs. Raiders coach Hue Jackson decides not to discipline McClain, and soon the Raiders’ playoff dreams collapse as they choke away the last few games.
On January 5, 2012 Reggie McKenzie is hired as the Raiders new general manager. McKenzie’s first order of business is to fire Hue Jackson because he had lost discipline of the team. McKenzie soon hires defensive guru Dennis Allen as the head coach. Allen was excited to coach McClain, who would finally play in a 21st century defense that was not handicapped by Al Davis. By the end of the year, McClain was in Allen’s doghouse because of an altercation between the two. McClain then went on social media to bash the Raiders organization which does not sit well with the Raider nation. Instead of cutting McClain the Raiders have him playing spot running back in practice.
Earlier this offseason the Raiders finally cut ties with McClain. It seemed like he was destined to become another first round bust for the silver and black, but McClain caught a lucky break by signing with the world champion Baltimore Ravens. He would have the opportunity to replace one of the greatest middle linebackers in NFL history Ray Lewis. Not only would McClain replace Lewis, but he would be able to join a veteran locker room where he could be mentored by world champion players. However, McClain’s demons caught up with him again as he was arrested in Decatur. The Ravens did not release him, and it seemed that McClain would get another chance.
The 23 year old Rolando McClain announced his retirement today. Who knows if he will ever get a chance to play again in the NFL ,but one thing is clear; McClain will forever be known as the defensive JaMarcus Russell to all Raider fans.
Jorge Contreras is an Oakland Raiders writer for RantSports.com. Follow Jorge on Twitter @jraycontreras