Former Alabama and Oakland Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain, prior to retiring from the NFL at the age of just 24, "felt like Aaron Hernandez, like I just wanted to kill somebody," he said among other revealing things about the abrupt end of his playing career in a feature story by ESPN The Magazine.
The picture McClain paints of his life, with details never previously revealed, suggests he returned to Tuscaloosa, Ala., after retiring because it is the only place he has ever been able to stay out of trouble.
The NFL included.
Following his third arrest in his hometown of Decatur, Ala., earlier this year, McClain's self-destructive lifestyle led him to realize that he "would have ended up locked in a cage like an animal. That had to be the only outcome," he said.
The arc of McClain's pro career is a quick one: Drafted No. 8 overall by the Raiders in 2010, and given a rookie contract worth $40 million over five years, with $23 million guaranteed. In less than three seasons, he made headlines as much for trouble with the law as for his play, and fell out of favor with the Raiders so much that he was suspended and cut at the end of his third year. Shortly after signing a one-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens as a reclamation project, he was arrested in Decatur, Ala., on a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, then retired and moved to Tuscaloosa -- where he spent what he called the best years of his life while at Alabama.
According to McClain, he developed a disdain for pro football in part because of constant requests for money from family and friends in Decatur. On the day of his most serious arrest -- for discharging a firearm beside a man's head during an altercation -- McClain was in town for his grandfather's burial, and was irked to learn that his family had arranged for a $20,000 funeral, replete with limo service, to be paid by McClain.
"I was pissed off," he said.
As for his future in pro football, McClain simply said "probably," when asked if he planned to resume his playing career next season.