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. He recently graduated from FSU medical school. Now, Dr. Rolle is headed to Massachussets General Hospital to complete his residency in Neurology at Harvard.
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 a recent 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, 30, 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. Linked is Rolle’s interview with CNN.
Baltimore Ravens’ John Urschel was a straight ‘A’ student during his college career at Penn State. Now the 6-foot-4, 300 pound guard, who will be entering his fourth season, is a straight ‘A’ student at MIT, where he is working towards a PhD in mathematics. Like Rolle, Urschel, 25, has a goal of pursuing multiple dreams to fullest.
“After the end of my rookie season in the NFL in 2014, my decision to put off grad school began to eat away at me,” Urschel said in the Players’ Tribune. “I had always prided myself on not sacrificing football for math, or math for football.
“And yet, during my first offseason, when I was honest with myself, I knew I wasn’t pushing myself to become the best mathematician I could be. I had more to learn. I wanted to grow.” Click to see interview with Urschel.