Wearing stylish nerd glasses and standing in front of his locker, the normally reclusive linebacker agreed to talk to the media, mostly in an effort to publicly thank Jerry Jones for giving him the chance to play again in the NFL.
On Sept. 14, 2014, after a win over the Tennessee Titans in Nashville, linebacker Rolando McClain said it.
“I’m thrilled (Jones) did give me a call. There weren’t many teams that I would have left the couch for, and this is one of them, and I’m glad that he did. ... I was on a bad path. I didn’t deserve to play football, so to say. I wasn’t all the way there in the game. So you ain’t going to be the best if you ain't focused on the job, so I needed to take time to do what was important, get myself right, and I got that right.
“Now I’m in a great organization, got some great teammates and just happy to play football again.”
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Well ... that was fun. It is May 2017 and Ro’ has displayed the depth of his gratitude for Jerry’s gesture by setting it on fire.
Was Ro’ worth it? Yes, and just enough to make Jerry take a similar risk when the next one presents itself. Taken in limited quantities and viewed in the proper context, Jerry should never stop taking risks.
The Texas Rangers have done quite well with this philosophy. There is no six-game winning streak without the team giving Matt Bush another chance, and now he is their closer.
Without Ro’, the Cowboys don’t finish 12-4 and win the NFC East in 2014. The Cowboys were the lone NFL team to even squeeze one good season out of a guy who had the ability to have 10.
If he had just cared, Rolando McClain would be the best Cowboys defender today. Sean Lee knows this, too.
The problem became when the Cowboys wanted to rely on him. He didn’t want to practice or work out, and he failed drug tests.
McClain is a “victim” of taking his own talents for granted, and an idiot for blowing the chance Jerry gave him because he was desperate for a defensive player.
Count me among the many media masses who listened to Ro’ speak and fell for the rhetoric from the defensive coaches who raved about the man’s intellect.
Just because a man has superior football instincts, which had McClain had in abundance, doesn’t mean he’s smart. Ro’ knew where a football was going seemingly before the ball did. But he has blown the chance to make generational wealth because the activity bored him. By any definition that’s dumb.
Already on suspension by the NFL for violating its precious substance abuse policy because he is reportedly can’t quit that Purple Drank, McClain was recently arrested in his native Alabama for possession of weed and a firearm. He was stopped because of committing the unpardonable sin of a “window tint violation.”
(This makes me feel better about the time the cop was able to see that I had an outdated inspection sticker despite the fact I was driving 73 mph).
The No. 8 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft is only 27 and effectively out of the league despite possessing the talent to dominate it. If he had just cared, McClain would be the best Cowboys defender today. Sean Lee knows this, too.
Because for every Pacman Jones, Randy Gregory, Greg Hardy, Alonzo Spellman, and Tank Johnson and so many others, there is a Dez Bryant.
It’s been three years since Jerry signed McClain, and two years since he gave defensive end Greg Hardy a contract. Since that most recent risk was a spectacular failure for the entire organization and made his head coach look like a rah-rah hypocrite, Jerry has yet to take the type of buried-treasure dig that makes him our Crazy Jerry.
Do not assume this means Jerry has “learned his lesson” with questionable character players. It’s Jerry, and no number of Stephens can prevent the owner from ultimately doing what he wants.
Because for every Pacman Jones, Randy Gregory, Greg Hardy, Alonzo Spellman, and Tank Johnson and so many others, there is a Dez Bryant. There is a Terrell Owens, who in the mind of the Cowboys was worth it because he was a productive player in his time here despite the constant headaches and narcissistic antics.
So, too, was Rolando McClain. Had Rolando’s head ever been on right he would still be with the Raiders, the team that originally drafted him.
This sort of Cowboys marriage will happen again. The team will be desperate. There will be a talented player with character concerns on the street. Jerry will smell a deal for cheap talent.
Jerry will hear what he needs to justify the addition, and maybe, if they are lucky, they will be able to squeeze one good year out of the guy the way they did Rolando McClain.
Mac Engel: @macengelprof