Apr 27, 2010

The Rhode to being Rolle models

by Jordan LoSasso

 

As I was watching the 2010 NFL Draft unfold this weekend, quarterback Tim Tebow and safety Myron Rolle brought me a moment of clarity. 

 The similarities between them are striking, yet the differences are vast.

One plays offense and the other defense. Both were highly touted athletes that had more questions than answers going into the draft. One was unexpectedly drafted in the first round, 25th to the Denver Broncos, and the other was the last pick in the sixth round by the Tennessee Titans.

No matter the differences, both players are a breath of fresh air, and both offer the same thing. They are role models to football fans and to the children that imitate professional football players on the playground at recess or playing pick-up games with their neighborhood friends.

Unfortunately, Rolle is not a household name. More people probably know about the negligence of Adam “Pacman” Jones than the accomplishments of Rolle. 

On Nov. 22, 2008 Rolle had a choice. He was a finalist for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, an international award that provided the winner with one to three year’s study at Oxford University. Interviews for the finalists were held on the same day his college football team, the Florida State Seminoles, was slated to play a must-win game against Maryland. He could either go to the interview with a chance to be a Rhodes Scholar and miss almost half the football game, or skip the interview and play football.

For Rolle, the choice was a no-brainer. For those who know Rolle, the choice was obvious. Academics and an education always came first, and that wouldn’t change.

As a child Rolle would get a pat on the back from his parents for doing well in football, but would receive incentives, like two pizza pies, for doing well in academics. The educational discipline instilled in Rolle at a young age by his parents wasn’t going astray now. 

Rolle interviewed with the Rhodes Scholarship judges, waited two hours before they picked the winners, then quickly hopped on a private jet to make it to his game in Maryland by the second quarter. 

He won both events that day. Florida State beat Maryland 37-3 and Rolle was named a Rhodes Scholar.

Rolle’s career will not end with his NFL playing days, either. In fact, in his mind it is just the beginning. He has aspirations of becoming a neurosurgeon, helping impoverished nations build medical infrastructures and setting up a medical clinic in his parents’ home country, the Bahamas.

However, it has been speculated by NFL scouts that Rolle’s extracurricular activities outside of football might have cost him in the draft. NFL executives are concerned that Rolle is not fully focused on his NFL career, are unsure if he will be a reliable franchise player and think he might be too smart for his own good. They are wrong.

What concerned NFL insiders about Rolle’s focus is what the NFL and specifically Denver Broncos Coach Josh McDaniels fell in love with when they looked at Tebow.

Tebow’s passion on the field for his team, his coaches and the game of football propelled his NFL stock, despite flaws in his mechanics and accuracy as a quarterback. He is a moldable talent for coaches and an inspiration for teammates. 

Taking a flyer on a player like Tebow doesn’t seem so outlandish considering his work ethic, character and desire to win. 

Tebow promised McDaniels that he will bring to Denver the same qualities that made him so likeable at Florida. If this promise goes as well as his first promise — the one after Florida’s 2008 shocking loss to Mississippi — it will be a bright future for the Broncos. That first promise even made speeches in sports movies look dull and monotonous. 

“To the fans and everybody in Gator Nation, I’m sorry. I’m extremely sorry. We were hoping for an undefeated season. That was my goal, something Florida has never done here,” Tebow said with tears in his eyes during the postgame press conference after the loss to Mississippi. “I promise you one thing. A lot of good will come out of this. You will never see any player in the entire country play as hard as I will play the rest of the season. You will never see someone push the rest of the team as hard as I will push everybody the rest of the season. You will never see a team play harder than we will the rest of the season. God bless.”

Florida didn’t lose another game and won a national championship.

In a sporting world inundated with poor choices and bad behavior, it’s clear we can finally score two for the good guys.

 

Contact Jordan LoSasso

at jlosasso@liberty.edu.


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