Former top-10 draft pick Rolando McClain told al.com that he intends to make a comeback to the NFL.
McClain, who turns 30 years old this weekend, hasn’t played an NFL game since the 2015 regular season — a span of nearly 1,300 days. But he says he’s undaunted, wanting to change the narrative that he’s a bust.
“I’m nowhere near satisfied with how my professional career has gone," McClain said. "That’s for myself. That’s me looking in the mirror and talking to my boys. Nah, that’s not the taste I want to leave in my mouth.”
McClain was the eighth overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft out of Alabama by the Oakland Raiders. He spent parts of his first three seasons there, collecting 245 tackles, 6.5 sacks, one interception and one safety in starting 38 of his 41 games in Oakland.
McClain then doubled down on his stated goal on Twitter on Friday:
I applied for reinstatement from the NFL and I'm gonna make this comeback to play the game I love. I'm healthy both mentally and physically, I just need the chance to show what I can do
— Rolando McClain (@RoMac25) July 12, 2019
There’s the matter of getting reinstated first
McClain also had trouble in Oakland, however, suffering through injuries, struggling on the field and enduring some bizarre off-field incidents. McClain also said he was mentally drained before the team released him in the spring of 2013. The Ravens signed him briefly, but he never suited up for the team and was released after saying he intended to retire at the time.
The Cowboys eventually signed McClain, and he played well there over parts of two seasons but was suspended multiple times — including an indefinite ban in December 2016 that technically remains in place now.
McClain said he wants to get reinstated first and then plans to be in shape with the hopes of being signed prior to the opening of training camps, which happens at the end of July.
Assuming that happens, McClain also says he’s back in great shape again. He was bothered for years by hip issues but has recovered from surgery that helped correct an impingement issue that McClain had since birth and progressed during his football career but one that isn’t slowing him down now.
“Every time I got in my linebacker position, it was bone on bone grind,” McClain said. “Not only do I feel good, I’m recovered and I’m rested. I feel better now because I know I’ll be playing with two legs.”
Would anyone sign Rolando McClain?
It still feels like a quantum leap to assume that NFL teams are blowing up the phone of McClain, given his long battle with injuries, his off-field concerns and the major length of time since he last played.
That said, there possibly are still people in the NFL who believe McClain still has the talent to make it in the league. All it takes is for one of them to give him a shot for a team lacking depth or getting hit by injuries at the position.
McClain said he’s been in communication with the NFLPA in order to help him get reinstated. Although he hasn’t played the past three seasons, McClain went back to get his degree at Alabama in December 2017 and has been going through early-morning workout sessions in the Crimson Tide weight room.
We have a hard time seeing McClain going back to the Cowboys or Raiders, honestly (or the Ravens). But if he can find a way back to the field — again — McClain would complete another wild comeback for the player viewed as a top-tier prospect a decade ago.
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