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The curious case of Myron Rolle: Too clever for the NFL?

A young man who has already been dubbed ‘the future of black America’ has created a dilemma that the NFL is unsure how to deal with…

Young man with a big future: Myron Rolle (right) has attracted a lot of attention for his intelligence and athleticism

From a distance, Myron Rolle looks just like any number of the hundreds of finely tuned athletes running through exercises this week in Indianopolis’s Lucas Oil Stadium. At 6 foot 2 and 215 pounds (15 st 4lbs), Rolle possesses the same unlikely blend of prodigious physical gifts that has long made him and his peers impressive American football players, and consequently attracted the attention of scouts from all 32 NFL teams who are looking for fresh blood in the forthcoming NFL Draft.

Rolle has the same primary ambition as many of the players he shares the field with — to convince one of those teams to make him a first round choice in that draft — but that is where the similarity ends.

Because, beyond the physical likeness, Rolle is quite different from most of his fellow players. For a start, the 23-year-old is the only one of his auditioning group who can list Oxford University on his academic resume.

Not content with being one of the finest young sportsmen in his country, Rolle is also among the most intelligent. Burnley defender Clarke Carlisle may have earned headlines last week with his exploits on Countdown, but Rolle is working on a different plane entirely.

While the U.S. collegiate system requires athletes to be students as well as sport stars, not all graduate with degrees and experiences that will give them options after they’ve played their last down. Many take less taxing courses that help them to fulfil the minimum educational requirements needed to take the field at weekends. Rolle is at the opposite end of the spectrum, having been one of only 32 students throughout the country last year to be awarded the coveted Rhodes scholarship. Bestowed upon the most academically and personally gifted young men and women from around the world, it permits them all a place to study a Masters course of their choice at Oxford University.

Many of his peers dream about the prizes on offer in professional football — the Super Bowl rings, the money, the fame and everything else that comes with it. Rolle has some of those same dreams, but many more to boot. After all, past Rhodes scholars include prominent politicians, rights activists, philosophers, inventors and even, in Bill Clinton, a U.S. President. Continue reading

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March 3, 2010 Posted by | Comment, NFL, Sport | , , , | 1 Comment