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The Epitome of a Nubian Knight

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

NFL Player Myron Rolle Told He's Too Smart To Play In The League

NFL Player Myron Rolle Told He's Too Smart to Play in the League
By Dr. Boyce Watkins, PhD
Mar 7th 2010 6:56AM

College Player Myron Rolle

You would think that Myron Rolle, the NFL super-stud who also happens to be a Rhodes Scholar, would be the kind of man who makes us proud. You would expect that his status as being the man who represents the future of the black athlete in America would make the NFL happy to have him on the roster of one of their teams. Not only is Rolle brilliant, but he is also tough as nails and fast as lightning. The man has the whole package.

But at least according to some NFL coaches, Rolle may not be committed enough to be a part of their league.

Myron Rolle Conversin'

"We'll have to find out how committed he is," an NFC assistant coach said, repeating the sentiment of five other NFL officials who said the same thing.
When I founded ALARM, the Athlete Liberation Academic Reform Movement, my goal was to create athletes just like Myron Rolle. I was growing tired of seeing black men display brilliance on the field, only to be convinced to become dummies in the classroom. In my own experience as a black athlete, I found that academic excellence could be achieved with the same skill set I picked up as a football and basketball player - the same discipline, consistency, courage, focus and determination that wins championships can also create outstanding scholarship and empowered black leadership. I also found that brothers can find easier paths to financial and professional success than sweating all day and breaking their bones on the football field. I earned far more as a Finance Professor and businessman than the average college athlete earns in his professional career, and to be honest, I hated school until I figured out what education could actually do for me. Playing sports is cool and fun, but going through life without education always makes you an easy target to be pimped, controlled and ultimately robbed by those who care nothing about you.

Trainer Tom Shaw, who worked with Rolle over the past year, finds the criticism to be almost silly. Shaw has trained guys like Peyton Mannin and Deion Sanders, along with 118 former first-round draft picks and NFL MVPs. He argues that the critique against Rolle shows ignorance.

Myron Rolle Workin' Out On The Field

"I hear all the negative things that he has too many things going on in his life," Shaw said. "But if [the NFL] is saying that Myron Rolle is a bad example, that's a joke. ... Myron is what you want all these kids to be. Every one of these kids should want to be Myron Rolle. "The reason I say he's going to be a 10-year veteran is he's a guy who is going to out-work everybody. He's not just going to rest on his athletic ability."

"When coaches ask you what's important in your life, usually you can get away with saying God, then family, then football. But a lot of coaches out there want to hear football, then God, then family."

Rolle has just returned from Oxford University in England, where he studied for a master's degree in Medical Anthropology. He's now studying while training for football and hopes to one day become a neurosurgeon.

"The impression I get from people around the NFL – not necessarily in it, but around it – is that the NFL wants players for whom football is their No. 1 priority, their No. 2 priority and their No. 3 priority," Rolle said. "For me, I've never been someone with a singular talent. I have other abilities and interests and I think I would be doing a disservice to me, my team, my family, everyone who has invested stock in me if I was just so isolated in one thing. ... The thing I always try to present to people in the NFL as far as my commitment is that my academics and my concerns at Oxford or as an outside philanthropist can help my football abilities. It can help me be someone more disciplined on the field, help me be someone more balanced and knowledgeable. It can help the other guys if they want to get involved in the foundation or the community rather than going out and partying or getting in trouble somehow."

NFL Great (And Hard Hittin' Knock Ya Lights Out Player)
Ronnie Lott (left) And Myron Rolle (right)

During an interview with some NFL professionals, one of the coaches actually asked Rolle what it felt like to dessert his team this year in order to pursue his Rhodes Scholarship.

"I hadn't heard that one before," said Rolle. "My initial reaction was a bit of confusion. It never was anger, but I was more bothered by the question because if anyone knew my involvement with my teammates, how much they care about me and how much I care about them."

Here's the deal on Myron Rolle:

I spoke this weekend at a symposium on Barack Obama and Democracy, hosted by Dr. Peniel Joseph at Tufts University. One of the issues that came up is the impact that President Obama has had on the intellectual pursuits of African American males. I would argue that the effects of Myron Rolle and Stephen Stafford (the 13-year old who is now a junior at Morehouse College), were they sufficiently well-publicized, could be just as dramatic as that of Obama. This shift in perspective is dramatic in light of the historical abuse taken by NFL athletes, many of whom are disabled when their playing careers are over. One prominent Historian at the conference, Dr. Mathew Whitaker from Arizona State University, described the significant physical and psychological toll that a professional sports career can cause, and how so many black males are lured into sacrificing everything for a dream that hardly ever comes true.

I love the way the NFL coaches are dissing Rolle and I think there are a long list of lessons that can be learned by all athletes across America, especially black males. As a college professor who has watched this kind of thing happen for the past 20 years, I can tell you that this kind of behavior is also common at the college level, where millions of dollars are put in coaches' bank accounts in exchange for them getting players to put everything else to the side in order to win games. Academics is almost never a priority, and it is only allowed to become a priority after football issues are taken care of.

This leads to many black male athletes across America abandoning their interest in academic pursuits, all for the sake of their sports. Black men like Myron Rolle are not cheered for by coaches - they are typically despised. They are told that they are not committed enough, and by spending their time in a book rather than volunteering for the physical break down of college and professional sports, they are considered to be just as unruly and volatile as prison inmates. The truth is that by breaking out of the brain-washing process of their NFL and collegiate pimps, they have become something that society does not want them to be.

By becoming a neurosurgeon, Myron Rolle will make far more money than most of his NFL colleagues. Most NFL players have very short careers, and 10 years later, they've only got bad knees and aching bodies to show for their careers. What is most interesting is that it is actually easier to become a neurosurgeon than an NFL player. Those men who have gambled their entire future and livelihood on sports need to realize that there are easier and better ways to make a living.

Keep going Myrone Rolle - I am incredibly proud of you. You are everything the world needs you to be.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

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