Tennessee Titans safety, 24-year-old Myron Rolle, enters his second season ready to compete after learning the speed and tempo of the NFL as a rookie, following a year-long hiatus from the game as the third Rhodes Scholar to ever play in the league.
The hard-hitting 6-foot-2, 215-pounder passed up his first year in the NFL to study for one more year at the University of Oxford in England and earn his MS in medical anthropology.
This is after he finished his pre-med Bachelor’s degree in 2 ½ years with a 3.75 grade point average at Florida State Univ. This is also after he already received third-team All-American honors in 2008. That same year, FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews said Rolle played the most complete game he ever saw a safety play in his 25-year tenure at the school. In that game against Univ. of Miami he racked up two touchdown-saving tackles, four pass break-ups, two quarterback hurries, one sack, three third-down stops, and two more tackles.
So why risk draft stock and delay a year in one of highest paying, prestigious sports leagues in the world?
Rolle wants to be a neurosurgeon. Well, after the NFL of course.
“A lot of teams had questions about my commitment to football, and if I really wanted to play the sport, and if this is something I was committed to for 10-plus years, God sparing my life.” Rolle said. “I had to answer those questions often, but I answered them frankly, and truthfully, and said yes, this is something I am committed to.”
While he studied at the English university, Rolle maintained a strict, regimental daily routine.
“I worked out every day, on a speed program that I employed, I ate properly and had a strong diet,” Rolle said.
“It’s hard to be in two worlds at once, trying to study at the best university in the world, get a master’s degree, and at the same time watch film on my little computer at eleven o’clock at night in a small, grainy room in Oxfordshire, England. It was commitment.”
Even with his commitment to the game while abroad, Rolle remained concerned. He was worried about his absence from football and dropping too far down from his first or second-round projected selection by an NFL team in 2009.
“I had a dream of being an NFL player before walking off campus at Florida State and I was very close to doing so, especially hearing the projections from various draft gurus and experts…it was weaker safety draft class, just to be frank,” Rolle said.
He turned to family, friends, and pastors for advice.
“I really got the sense that if I accepted the Rhodes scholarship and went to Oxford University for a year, that would put me in a different class of leaders and difference makers, but it will also show a great example, a paradigm for other young boys and girls that have that dream of being an athlete and a student,” Rolle said.
It worked out like he planned after returning stateside.
Rolle found a home in Nashville, Tenn. when the Tennessee Titans signed him to a four-year contract in the 6th round of the 2010 draft.
He joins the elite Rhodes Scholar fraternity in the NFL with the late Byron “Wizard” White (associate Supreme Court justice from Pittsburgh Pirates ), along with Pat Haden, former L.A. Rams quarterback and CBS sports correspondent.
Last year Rolle spent his rookie season on the practice squad.
“It helps get my instincts back a little bit, and I didn’t have to rush in to play right away,” Rolle said. “I had a chance to watch them (the veteran starters), watch how they practice, watch how they interact with each other, watch how they communicated on the field, watch how they take care of their bodies during the week, and watch their routines.”
Rolle used his first year in on the sidelines to assimilate into the faster-paced, apex football league.
“ I’m very observant and feel like that year got me back to the swing of football, and this year I’m ready to step on the stage and take my place on this football team because I’m very excited, I’m young, and still athletic,” Rolle said.
Although he hasn’t set a time frame to leave the NFL for the medical career he’ll pursue, Rolle has goals he’d like to achieve while playing with the Titans.
His NFL goals, like his medical career, are methodical and planned, one play at a time.
“I know I want to establish myself in this league, and I want to help my team win a Super Bowl,’ Rolle said. “It takes minor steps first, and then you make those major leaps.”