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Rolle Completes Journey from Safety to Surgeon

Myron Rolle Twitter

It’s graduation season and, after suffering through mostly meaningless and interminable speeches exhorting them to do good in the world, millions of young people are being turned loose on the nation presumably to do just that.

One of those graduates, Myron Rolle, has heard this speech a few times, and has apparently taken heed of those exhortations.

Rolle joined the ranks of prospective doctors over the weekend and will begin doing his residency at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston next month.

But while the addition of yet another doctor is nothing unusual, Rolle’s path to a stethoscope is quite extraordinary.

Let’s start with the idea that Rolle, who graduated from Florida State University’s College of Medicine, began his course as a football player, and a darned good one.

Rolle was the nation’s top-ranked high school prospect coming out of high school as a defensive back and reportedly had more than 80 scholarship offers.

He signed on at Florida State, where he told then-coach Bobby Bowden that he would only be in Tallahassee for three years, presumably to turn pro.

But Rolle, who was an All-America candidate, had bigger goals than to play in the NFL, though he did that, too. Rolle wanted not only to go to med school. He wanted to be a Rhodes Scholar.

That’s Rhodes Scholar. As in Oxford. As in Cambridge. As in England.

So, Rolle, the son of Bahamian immigrants, embarked on the journey, which included a day in November, 2008, where he interviewed for the Rhodes Scholarship in the afternoon, then took a flight chartered by Florida State to get to the University of Maryland for a game.

Rolle arrived in time to play in the second half of the contest. The entire scenario was the perfect PR for college athletics officials who push the narrative of the student-athlete.

Except Rolle was no show pony. He took his plan so seriously that it likely cost him a chance to make millions in the NFL.

You see, football coaches and officials are nervous about any player who doesn’t eat, sleep and breathe the game.

The fact that Rolle could be the brains of the defense as a safety and exhibit great intellect as a prospective doctor was frightening to teams thinking about drafting him.

Indeed, despite the fact that he finished work on his bachelor’s degree in just 2 ½ years, Rolle slipped all the way to the sixth round of the 2010 draft to Tennessee.

The Titans kept him on their practice squad for a year before cutting him. The Steelers likewise kept him around for a cup of coffee before letting him go before the 2012 season.

No worries for the 30-year-old Rolle. He’s done a year of study at Oxford and completed four years of med school, assisting on more than 200 surgeries, to come out on the other side way ahead of the game.

Dr. Myron Rolle plans to treat, among others, football players with suspected brain injuries from on-field contact. He’ll never be a Hall of Famer, but he’s already a bigger winner than most players.

And that’s how I see it for this week.

Milton Kent hosted the weekly commentary Sports at Large from its creation in 2002 to its finale in July 2013. He has written about sports locally and nationally since 1988, covering the Baltimore Orioles, University of Maryland men's basketball, women's basketball and football, the Washington Wizards, the NBA, men's and women's college basketball and sports media for the Baltimore Sun and AOL Fanhouse. He has covered the World Series, the American and National League Championship Series, the NFL playoffs, the NBA Finals and 17 NCAA men's and women's Final Fours. He currently teaches journalism at Morgan State University.