Last week, Oakland Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain was the talk of Raider Nation after he was found guilty on charges of assault, reckless endangerment, menacing and wrongful discharge of a firearm and was subsequently sentenced to 180 days in jail.
A number of fans felt that this serious issue—coupled with his less-than-stellar performance on the field—would lead new general manager Reggie McKenzie to quickly cut ties with McClain, especially since the team is on the brink of a new era.
Head coach Dennis Allen explained earlier this month about he wants in a player, as well as what it means to be a Raider. He remarked, "Here's what's struck me about this team a little bit—you kind of have had the picture of the outlaw, renegade Raiders, and that's not the case."
He added, "We're not looking for a team full of choir boys.But we are looking for guys that are going to be dependable on the field and that we can also depend on off the field ... I think that kind of goes hand in hand. Usually, guys of good character, there's a faith-based background to the way they were brought up."
McClain seems to be missing the mark in a number of ways, and while I do believe everyone deserves a second chance, I don't think that chance should come as a detriment to the team. Chances are, he could find a new home rather quickly. Perhaps with the Baltimore Ravens?
Last year, more than a few considered McClain to be the poster boy for the team's biggest weakness, obviously referring to the Raiders' defense in 2011. In addition, Paul Gutierrez of CSNBayArea.com, said it well when he noted that McClain "has shown poor instincts in reading plays, often attacking the wrong gap. He is too easily re-directed while in pursuit. He seemingly has a hard time shedding blocks. And replays show he gives up on plays too easily. Angles? Scouts scoff at them."
This certainly doesn't seem to be in line with the new and improved Raiders. Not to mention the fact that cutting McClain could save the Raiders a bit of cash too, an important aspect to consider this season.
Yet, McClain remains with the team, as Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune confirmed with the Raiders that he was at OTAs on Monday, May 21.
In an official statement after the conviction, the Raiders said, "The team will continue to closely monitor the legal process, understanding that when appropriate, the NFL will review the situation under its personal conduct policy,"
It could be that they've decided to wait out the appeals process, which could take quite a long time. McClain's attorney, Harvey Steinberg, said the verdict is meaningless in anticipation of a jury trial. McClain may have bought himself some more time through his appeal.
In the meantime, fans will have to have faith that McKenzie will do the right thing based on the knowledge he has. Right now, the rest of us can only speculate as to what really happened and what McClain's attitude is on his career, the team, and the incident.
From what I've seen in McKenzie, I strongly believe we can trust his decision, knowing that he's doing what it takes to bring the team back to their Commitment to Excellence and, hopefully, a trip to the postseason after a decade of patiently waiting.