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Since Ravens insider linebacker Rolando McClain surprisingly declared his intention to retire from the NFL on Wednesday afternoon, many have questioned the motives and sincerity of his decision to walk away from football at the age of 23.
Some have even gone as far as suggesting it’s an orchestrated plan to keep McClain out of the limelight while he deals with the fallout of three arrests in the last 16 months and could ultimately lead to his return to the Ravens as early as this August. By placing McClain on the reserve-retired list, general manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens retain the former 2010 first-round pick’s rights by way of the one-year, $700,000 deal he signed in April.
McClain attempted to clarify his unconventional decision Thursday and made it known that the Ravens had nothing to do with his choice to retire after three tumultuous seasons with the Oakland Raiders and before making it to organized team activities in Owings Mills.
“Clearly, my decision to retire has raised some questions,” McClain said in a statement released to several media outlets. “Quite simply, I love football, but I have decided at this time it is in my best interest to focus on getting my personal life together. Beyond that, I’m not sure what the future holds for me, including football. This was entirely my decision and the Ravens have been very supportive during this process. I am very grateful for the opportunity they gave me and wish them the best of luck in the future. God willing, maybe I’ll play for them one day.”
The details of how McClain intends to get his personal life in order remain unknown as he vowed earlier this offseason that he needed to avoid spending time in his hometown of Decature, Ala., where he was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest just 10 days after signing a one-year contract with the Ravens. Of course, the biggest takeaway from his statement was his way of leaving the door open to not only a return to the NFL but also the Ravens.
If McClain is truly committed to making the necessary changes in his life to reverse the treacherous route he’s walked over the last couple years, you hope we’ve heard the last of the 2010 first-round pick on the polite scanner. However, the Ravens shouldn’t be interested in being burned a second time by an individual who showed his appreciation to the organization by being arrested less than two weeks after signing and failing to commit himself to the offseason training program.
The former University of Alabama standout may very well receive another opportunity in the NFL one day, but the Ravens shouldn’t let the fact that they hold his current rights cloud the truth that played out over the better part of a month. They can’t give into temptation and risk looking foolish yet again while sending the wrong message to the current players on the roster.
McClain’s time in Baltimore should be over for good.