October 26, 2009

SOMETIMES THE RED SHIRT IS AN OXFORD:

On the Way to the N.F.L. Draft, a Year of Fulfillment in England (PETE THAMEL, 10/25/09, NY Times)

[Myron] Rolle, 22, established himself as an elite student and athlete at Florida State, becoming a Rhodes scholar and a top N.F.L. prospect. But he temporarily said no to millions of dollars and risked his N.F.L. draft standing to study here. He is perhaps the most prominent athlete to accept a Rhodes scholarship since Bill Bradley in 1965. [...]

Rolle walks the same streets that the future president Bill Clinton did when he was a Rhodes scholar. Rolle trains on the same grounds where Roger Bannister, an Oxford graduate, ran the first sub-four-minute mile in 1954. And as Rolle prepares for a life as a doctor and philanthropist after football, he aims to take a similar path as his role model, Bradley, the former N.B.A. player and United States senator.

Rolle plans to carve his own legacy after Oxford by attending medical school and becoming a neurosurgeon. He has started a foundation that is building a medical clinic and recreation center on a remote island in the Bahamas.

Although he misses football, Rolle has forged friendships that cross cultures and continents. He takes stimulating classes in which discussions and engaging classmates matter more than papers and tests.

“I think it’s a great message for all of us,” N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell said of Rolle’s decision to attend Oxford. “Even the greatest players don’t play forever. And they’re going to have to think about other careers, and he’s obviously thought about that at a young age.”

Football remains a part of Rolle’s future. He rises at 6:30 a.m. every day for two-hour workouts to prepare for this spring’s N.F.L. draft. Bradley, by contrast, ate five meals a day, did not exercise and gained 30 pounds in the two years he studied abroad, he said in a recent phone interview. Bradley jokingly encouraged Rolle not to follow his lead.

Bradley said he was proud that Rolle had set the groundwork for a life after sports. Rolle and his foundation have made strides toward raising the $5 million it will cost to open the clinic in the Bahamas. Rolle’s decision to study for a master’s degree in medical anthropology here will help him build an education foundation for his medicinal and philanthropic career.

“It shows real character on his part that he’s giving up the chance to sign a big N.F.L. contract and going to Oxford,” Bradley said. “The experience he’ll have will last a lifetime, while the context of his experience in pro football compared to college football will not be as different as his experience in Oxford will be from the non-football life he’s led.”

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 26, 2009 7:17 AM
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