A Knucklehead Retires: The end to Rolando McClain’s NFL career

Raiders McClain

The Rolando McClain experiment in Baltimore is over, as the former linebacker has pulled the plug on his career full of knuckle-headed mistakes.

“Rolando let me know that he plans to retire from the NFL,” Ravens general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome said. “We have placed him on the Reserve/Retired list.”

A once promising career is now over at the age of 23. After being drafted with the eighth overall pick in 2010 by the Oakland Raiders, McClain’s mistakes led him to being released prematurely, not even receiving the full amount of $23 million in guarantees in his original five-year, $40 million deal.

Once the Raiders suspended McClain for conduct detrimental to the team, McClain had the final $3.635 million in guaranteed money voided. That’s more than $3 million that he’s going to wish he had as he’ll never again receive a payday like he was accustomed to for the past three years.

Not even two weeks after being signed by the Ravens, McClain was arrested. His most recent legal issue was thought to be enough to have the Ravens pull the plug before they even gave McClain a helmet to wear or assigned him a jersey number. Somehow, McClain remained on the roster even as the Ravens addressed some of their needs at middle linebacker with second-round selection, Arthur Brown from Kansas State.

With Brown in Baltimore, fans once again waited for McClain to receive his pink slip; however, that didn’t seem likely based off of the comments from assistant general manager Eric DeCosta during a chat session with the Baltimore Sun.

“I think this about McClain, he deserves another chance,” DeCosta said, essentially proving that McClain which was a surprise to some and proved that McClain was basically a cat with nine lives.

It will likely never be confirmed but it may be possible that McClain didn’t eat as big of a slice of humble pie as expected. Given the fact that McClain feared for his football career following his most recent arrest back home in Decatur, Al., it appeared that he still wanted to play.

So why the change of heart?

Unless something quickly changed McClain’s desire to make hundreds of thousands of dollars this season, he potentially could have been informed by the team that they were going to release him, and subsequently could have come to the conclusion that retiring was the best way to inflict the least amount of additional embarrassment on an already embarrassing career.

The saddest part of the stories when it comes to players like McClain (two arrests this offseason) and free agent wide receiver Titus Young (three arrests this past week), is that their young careers will come to an abrupt end due to their own immaturity. Over the summer, hundreds of young men will step into various training camps around the league and be told they’re not good enough to play in the NFL, no matter how hard they study and train.

For McClain, it was the exact opposite, because clearly he never loved the game enough. What a waste. At least it didn’t cost the Ravens a single dime in the end.

Here’s the team’s official announcement:


LB Rolando McClain is retiring from the NFL, Ravens general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome announced Wednesday.

“Rolando let me know that he plans to retire from the NFL,” Newsome stated. “We have placed him on the Reserve/Retired list.”

McClain, 23, signed a one-year contract with the Ravens as a free agent on April 12. Prior to joining Baltimore, he spent his first three NFL seasons (2010-12) with the Oakland Raiders after becoming the eighth-overall selection in the 2010 Draft.

McClain posted 274 tackles (195 solo), 6.5 sacks (-42.5 yards), one interception, one forced fumble and 23 passes defensed in 41 career games with Oakland.

23 Raves on “A Knucklehead Retires: The end to Rolando McClain’s NFL career

  1. Ravenwoman on said:

    I think it is best for both parties to walk away. It all comes back to character. Whenever the Ravens stray away from their high standards of character; it always comes back to haunt them. Let’s just say no to the Sergio Kindles and Rolando McClains of the world. History repeats itself over and over again. Thank goodness this one didn’t cost the Ravens any money.

    • Showtime on said:

      Sergio Kindle was nothing but a Raven during his time in Baltimore. He did nothing wrong and had no character issues. He fractured his skull, lost hearing in one ear and doctors initially didn’t think he would be able to walk again, let alone play football. Please don’t lump in Kindle with McClain. They are polar opposites

      • Ravenwoman on said:

        It is well documented that Sergio Kindle had several off the filed issues before he was drafted. That is the reason he was a top 15 talent that fell to the second round of the draft. Not to mention he was arrested for a DUI in Howard County while he was a Raven. One of the incidents that I recall reading before he was drafted was that he crashed his car into an apartment complex and left the scene of the accident. You can Google and read up on it. But to say he had no character issues is inaccurate.

    • Anonymous on said:

      Hmm. Ray Lewis was famously arrested for murder. He may have been acquitted, but it’s fair to say that this run-in with the law raised concerns about his character. The same goes for Jamal Lewis, who had to go to federal prison during one offseason. Terrell Suggs has been arrested for assault. And Chris McAlister was arrested twice during his time with the team. Ravenwoman, do you think the Ravens should have parted ways with all of those players?

      • Ravenwoman on said:

        Ray Lewis was acquitted and his only mistake was being at the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people. He totally turned his life around after that. What I was making reference to are incidents before the draft takes place and the Ravens knowing a person’s background. In all of the above incidences they occurred after the player was drafted.

        I just believe you conduct your due diligence on a player and based on the background select the best possible player available. The Ravens do a good job of that for the most part, but there have been times when they will gamble against their better judgment and sign the player. Cincinnati is a team that gambles like that all of the time. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

  2. darren on said:

    bottom line was ozzie just had him in case the draft went bad….the draft did not….he was gonna get cut anyway and he knew it

  3. Ray in Frederick on said:

    or…the man has some severe mental issues to deal with; either due to chemical imbalances or blunt-force trauma with concussions. He’s clearly not right.

  4. RJ on said:

    Good riddance! What an immature punk Rolando is to just give up like this when he has been lucky enough to get a second (and most likely, last) chance. What’s even sadder is that you just know he’s going to blow through whatever money he’s “earned” in his short NFL career in about 3-4 years, and I’m sure we’ll soon be hearing stories about his attempted “comeback” like a lot of bust-players do when they realize how much they’ve screwed themsleves!

  5. Anonymous on said:

    Mike Preston is out fast in his self-righteous glory saying the Ravens should be embarrassed, but then goes on to say how great it is to give a guy second chances. Why should they be embarrassed? Former eighth pick in the draft gets a chance to try out at camp for a spot on the squad that needs an MLB. Cost to the Ravens = 0. Then Preston goes on about how he doesn’t want to hear any more about signing “high character guys.” So what, when the Ravens were talking about the qualities of Juice, Elam, Simon, Williams, Brown, team captains on winning teams who may not be perfect but have plenty to demonstrate high character, the Ravens were wrong to seek those elements? That’s a slap to those players they don’t deserve. and only props up the cynic cred Preston feels is necessary. Preston is the low character guy!

  6. playboy52 on said:

    its sad if anything else cause its leads to stereotype of the black athlete cause these guys get all.the press while u got great guys out there (ray rice for example) who does great stuff for the community who gets da backpages I hope Rolando is doing this to do some soul searching and hopefully u can get himself together restart his career I mean look at ray lewis he needed a murder case to change his life hopefully thats not the same for Rolando

    • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:


      If you are a regular to the site, you would know that we put the good guy things front and center where they belong. I’ve learned that the overwhelming majority of the men who play for the Ravens are God-fearing family men who are outstanding in their communities. Unfortunately mainstream media prefers to focus on the vast minority of athletes who trip and fall and trip and fall, like McClain. At the end of the day, we hope he finds his way for himself and those who care most about him.

      • Mike on said:

        Great points Tony. Number one, getting his life in order is priority one, over football. Anyone critical of the young man should do some research on his background. He had to file a restraining order against his mother, and she was eventually arrested after threatening to blow up his high school. His sister’s name is Tequila for Christs sakes. His dad was barely around and had trouble with the law as well. He basically spent his high school years homeless. I’m not giving him a pass but he needs a stable support system. Its a shame he never made it to Baltimore, because I think he would have gotten that support here.

  7. Phil from Frostburg on said:

    I wonder if he failed a drug test and retiring stops an announcement, which certainly would spell the end of any more 2nd chances

    • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

      If he did fail a drug test and that test would have resulted in a suspension, if he does return to the league said suspension would still have to be fulfilled.

  8. JerryB on said:

    Obviously, more to this story than meets the eye. Why would someone give up a lucrative career in football to “retire” at the age of…..23?! As for news coverage, there’s an old saying in the media……”If it bleeds, it leads”!

  9. faync on said:

    Uh, the man got bad mental health issues. Probably bi-polar. Well concealed by the win-at-all cost people at Alabama. In the NFL, where he has to take care of himself….

  10. faync on said:

    And BTW read the Wiki bio. A lot of terrible things happened to this young man in his teens years. He probably hasn’t mentally recovered from that trauma.

  11. Brian on said:

    You can’t compare McClain to Titus Young. Titus Young is having a mental breakdown of epic proportions. He is a danger to anyone who comes in his path. McClain on the other hand is immature. You can’t write f yal on a ticket and not expect repercussions. This all escalated from a simple tinted window violation. In his mind he feel like the police are targeting him. He may or may not be correct. The bottom line the charges were drop. I would be willing to bet the charges from his most recent arrest will be dropped as well. He’s doing the right thing by focusing on his life outside of football. He’s young he has plenty of time to recover. He’s no different that 23 year old men having too much to drink at the Preakness and driving home drunk.

  12. charlie on said:

    leave this guy alone-no harm done in balto. he’s got problems and he left the game to work things out-he did it BEFORE he caused any real distractions or took any dough from the team.

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