Baltimore Ravens

Retired linebacker Rolando McClain says he had dark thoughts, 'felt like Aaron Hernandez'

Since retiring from the NFL and being placed on the Ravens' reserve-retired list, Rolando McClain has returned to school at Alabama and is taking steps to get his life back in order.

Why did McClain walk away from football?


The eighth overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft and former Butkus Award winner and consensus All-American told ESPN The Magazine that he had dark thoughts and was concerned that he was bent on self-destructive behavior or doing harm to others.

"I felt like Aaron Hernandez," the former Oakland Raiders linebacker said in the article. "Like I just wanted to kill somebody."


McClain said Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome attempted to talk him out of retiring, but he had his mind made up. Other than meeting with Newsome and coach John Harbaugh when he signed, McClain didn't have any activity with the Ravens and never practiced with the team.

In the interview, McClain said he felt overwhelmed by the stresses of the NFL and friends and relatives asking for money, with roughly $600,000 spent on them during six months after he signed his rookie contract that included $23 million in guaranteed money.

McClain is living in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and attempting to complete his degree requirements.

McClain acknowledged having anger management issues, but he said that he doesn't want to attend therapy sessions after briefly speaking with a therapist introduced to him by Alabama coach Nick Saban.

"I'm scared of what he might figure out about me," McClain said in the article. "I don't know if I'm ready to know, man, why I was so angry. I don't know if I'm ready to know what triggers my anger. I just feel like I figured out on my own how to stay calm, how to enjoy life, how to be happy. Eventually, I might find the source of the problem, get over it."

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McClain, who's now 24, was placed on the Ravens' reserve-retired list after being signed to a one-year, $700,000 nonguaranteed contract and then getting arrested April 21 in his hometown of Decatur, Ala., on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. McClain has pleaded not guilty and assigned a court date in December.

The Ravens retain McClain's contractual rights and can activate him at any time, but have plenty of inside linebackers, including Daryl Smith, Jameel McClain and Josh Bynes. They can revisit his situation during the offseason.

McClain issued a statement through his agent, Pat Dye Jr., when he decided to retire.


"Clearly, my decision to retire has raised some questions," McClain said. "Quite simply, I love football, but I have decided at this time it is in my best interest to focus on getting my personal life together. Beyond that, I'm not sure what the future holds for me, including football.

"This was entirely my decision and the Ravens have been very supportive during this process. I am very grateful for the opportunity they gave me and wish them the best of luck in the future. God willing, maybe I'll play for them one day."