“Don’t know what you got til it’s gone.”
Glam metal band Cinderella immortalized that saying in song in 1988, but the Carolina Panthers and the Jacksonville Jaguars revived the chorus in 2012. The common denominator in their collective singing of the chorus is none other than a cornerback that both teams unceremoniously released without giving him a chance. That cornerback is Robert McClain, and he’s too busy making a name for himself with the Atlanta Falcons to look back.
When the Falcons took on McClain, not much was really expected of him for 2012. At the time, the team had the likes of Asante Samuel, Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson. However, McClain knew then (and knows now) the value of hard work and how important it is to always be prepared…just in case.
Injuries in the secondary brought about that ‘just in case.’ McClain’s patience and hard work were finally allowed to come together on the field, and he made the most of the opportunity. The first inkling anyone had of what could be was when McClain was able to pick off one Peyton Manning for his first career interception. His stock continued to rise throughout the season as he continued to deliver when called upon.
McClain came into the NFL with high hopes, but not necessarily high expectations. In his own words, “If it works out…great. If it doesn’t, it’s the military. I’m going to the Marines.”
Needless to say, the Marines’ loss—as well as the Panthers’ and Jaguars’ loss—was the Falcons’ gain. With the respective departures of Grimes and Robinson, look for McClain to be the cornerback gift that keeps on giving in 2013.