By Rickey Hampton, Editor and Founder of The African-American Athlete
The first thing an athlete should start preparing for on his first day as a professional athlete, is his last day as a professional athlete. For every Tom Brady, LeBron James and Miguel Cabrera, there are literally dozens of pros whose careers are fleeting.
As NFL people will tell you, that acronym also stands for Not For Long. Sadly, and sometimes tragically, some professional athletes aren’t prepared for the end.
Clearly, that is not a problem for NFL players Myron Rolle and John Urschel.
Rolle, the former Florida State University star, played two seasons in the NFL. The FSU medical school graduate is currently doing his residency in Neurology at Harvard (Massachusetts General Hospital).
Rolle always dreamed of playing in the NFL, but his lifelong dream was to become a physician. He graduated from FSU in two and half years, while playing for the Seminoles 2006-08. Had Rolle entered the 2009 draft he would have likely gone anywhere from late in the first round to early in the third round, as a defensive back.
However, Rolle passed on the draft to become a Rhodes Scholar, where he earned a degree in anthropology. Rolle returned to the states and entered the 2010 draft. This time, the scouts were not as enthusiastic.
The fact he was a scholar-athlete actually worked against him. He slid all the way to the sixth round before the Tennessee Titans selected him.
“Their sentiment was, ‘You play very well, but there’s other guys who will run through a wall for this, they need this,’ ” Rolle said in an interview with the Washington Post . “‘We’re not worried about you — you could go be President of the United States. But they need this.’
“I was like, how could you take this from me? They tell you all your life: be a student-athlete, focus on your grades. So I do that, and because it gets attention, it becomes an issue?”
Rolle, 31, spent two seasons with the Titans, and was cut before the start of the 2012 season by the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, during his short stint in the NFL he noticed the prevalent rise in football brain injuries in such as CTE. That influenced Rolle’s decision to study neurosurgery.
Urschel , a 6-foot-4, 300-pound offensive lineman, was a straight ‘A’ student during his college career at Penn State, and a fifth-round draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2014. However, before the start of last season, Urschel decided to retire at the age of 26.
With the rise in awareness of CTE (brain injuries) in the NFL, Urschel became more concerned with his future after football. Urschel always consider himself an academician, who happened to play football. Urschel is working on his PhD in mathematics at MIT. He wants to become a college professor and teach young people the concepts of math.
Linked are Urschel and Rolle discussing their careers beyond the gridiron.