Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Was Picking the Smartest Man in the NFL a Dumb Idea?

"Like a smart jock, right?...Now ain't that an oxymoron?"
--from the movie Renaissance Man

"Can't read defenses? He's a Rhodes Scholar. He can read 'em in Latin."
--from the HBO show Arliss

With the 207th pick in the 2010 draft, the Tennessee Titans picked Myron Rolle out of Florida State, a Rhodes Scholar & future MD. More significantly for the Titans, he’s a safety and should provide depth to their underachieving secondary.

A lot of speculation as to whether his scholarly interests will detract from his football responsibilities. I know this is where I’m supposed to defend him for being a renaissance man and a true student athlete. And no doubt he deserves praise from me and everyone else who’s heaped him w/ adoration. But any wariness an NFL team had of him concerning his non-football goals are actually legitimate.

When a teach drafts a player, they are making an investment. And if they have reason to believe that player won’t develop for some reason (injury prone, lack of talent, other interests, etc), then that team should be cautious. Granted, being afraid a player will retire early or be distracted because of an interest in the medical profession, is definitely different from most NFL red flags (and is much better than some recent former Titans players’ off the field activities), but it must be taken serious.

For example, if you’re hiring someone for a job, and that person is overqualified, then you would be right to hesitate because the person may be gone soon. Now, Rolle isn’t quite overqualified in the usual sense, but he definitely has qualities that make him less likely to drape his life in football, which is really what a player needs to do in order to succeed in the NFL, especially someone with the talent of a 6th round draft pick.

This is not to say I was upset the Titans drafted him. In fact, I remember sitting in front of my tv pumping my fist profusely when his name scrolled across the screen. But I do side with NFL execs whose jobs lie with not only whom they pick but whom they do not pick. And the more players you pick who don’t work out, the greater your chance of being out of a job.

All this said, does anyone have Myron Rolle’s contact info? I’d like for him to guest lecture one of my sports & lit classes.

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