Is the NFL Punishing Myron Rolle for Getting an Education?

Marcelle EnglishContributor IApril 21, 2010

COLLEGE PARK, MD - NOVEMBER 22:  Myron Rolle #3 of the Florida State Seminoles walks off the field after defeating the Maryland Terrapins on November 22, 2008 at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Maryland.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

With the NFL Draft only a couple of days away, I have been following the draft journey of Myron Rolle out of Florida State, who will definitely not be the top pick in this year’s draft, but is a solid player.

With that being said, the purpose of my rant today is not about Rolle, but about the message that the NFL is sending to the young men playing collegiate sports.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Rolle’s story let me bring you up to speed.

Myron Rolle played safety for the Florida State Seminoles. During his final season at FSU, Rolle was the team’s No. 3 tackler, an Associated Press third team All-American and a finalist for the Lott Trophy.  

In 2009, Rolle was looked at as being a top pick in that year’s draft, but instead of entering the draft in ’09 Rolle was given the honor of being selected as a Rhodes Scholar and continued his studies at Oxford University. After completing his studies, while training at the same time to enter this year’s draft, Rolle is now being criticized for a showing a lack of commitment to the game and is now being considered as a fourth-or fifth-round pick.

Are you serious?

So let me collect all of my thoughts here. One year a man is being considered as a top pick in the draft, but now that he has spent almost a year studying at the prestigious Oxford University, the man’s commitment to the game is being put into question.

Well, let me say that I applaud Rolle for not only taking advantage of a huge honor that thousands would kill for, but also preparing  for the "What ifs." You know, what if I don’t make it into the league? What if I get hurt? What if…what if. 

I don’t know how many of you have heard the newest crop of NFL players speak these days in interviews or press conferences, but these young men wouldn’t know subject-verb agreement if it threw a ball to them.

I totally get that Rolle has been away from the game for almost a year, but that’s not the underlined message that I’m getting. I’m hearing that if you are too educated, then the NFL doesn’t want you. With all of the player development programs that the NFL has for these players to participate in, you would think that this level of education would be praised and not criticized.

During this year’s combine, former Ravens coach Brian Billick, said that everything about Rolle has come down to his commitment to playing pro ball. Now this is the statement that took me over the edge. Billick believes that Rolle’s intellect could be a hindrance on the field.

“If you want to create hesitation on a guy, make him think. This guy [Myron Rolle] can’t help but think,” said Billick.


Now, in addition to his commitment issues now he’s too smart to play the game.

One person who has taken interest in Rolle’s story is the NBA Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson.  As a coach, he is known for making his players not only challenge their bodies on the court, but also the challenge their minds off the court.  Jackson has gone on record to say that he doesn’t like the negative feedback that many are giving Rolle for deciding to attend Oxford for a year.

Jackson says, “I think the athlete/scholar role should be complimented, not denigrated.”

With all of the wayward behavior that is going on in professional sports today, it’s just hard for me to believe that Rolle is being portrayed as if he has beat a woman, or ran someone over with a car, or was involved in bank rolling an elaborate dog fighting ring.

It seems to me that with the pessimistic feedback of Rolle’s path that the NFL is frowning upon education. This comes at a surprise when the NFL offers a number of educational programs for their athletes to attend some of the most prestigious business schools in the country during the off season—schools that are sometimes even hard for the average person to get into.

The less these young men are educated, the more problems you are likely to have with drugs, abuse, violence and the list goes on. It seems that these pro sports organizations are trying to keep these kids uneducated, so they don’t question their process, their position, or even their worth.

A man who makes an excellent case for this is New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden, author of Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete. This book is a must read.

Again, Rolle is not the best player in the draft, nor is he the worst, but he wants to fulfill a dream of playing in the NFL, but let’s not short change him for receiving a top notch education along the way.  If fortunate enough, this man will be able to give the NFL the next six-to-eight years of his life, so when one chapter is closing another will be opening for the Rhodes Scholar who happened to play in the NFL.