At Senior Bowl, Smart Money Is on Rhodes Scholar Myron Rolle
And then there's Myron Rolle, whose perspective is a little more worldly.
The Oxford he knows is the prestigious university in England, home to Rhodes Scholars. Like himself.
"Oxford is a unique place," the former Florida State safety said Tuesday. "You have people coming from all over the world who are bright, compelled, ambitious and want to fight the world's fight. They all come in to this one environment that is very academic and very traditional, and they offer parts of their ideologies and parts of opinions on different topics. You challenge them or you rebuke them or you agree with them in a way where it's unimaginable."
Sounds like Ole Miss (no dis' intended), right?
Then again, Rolle doesn't sound anything like a football player and actually hasn't been one for more than a year, which makes his comeback one of the more interesting stories at the Senior Bowl this week. Rolle could have been here a year ago, but instead took advantage of a remarkable academic opportunity. The books Rolle has been buried in the last six months have no X's and O's, and the classroom sessions have probed subjects somewhat deeper than how to stop Urban Meyer's spread offense.
After donning shoulder pads for the first time since FSU's defeat of Wisconsin in the Champ's Sports Bowl on Dec. 27, 2008, Rolle was asked for an example of those "unimaginable" discussions across the pond.
"Probably, illness narratives and how they are pertinent to different societies," Rolle explained. "Some patients use illness narratives as ways to express their inner feelings of pain and suffering experiences. Others use it as a way to communicate with a doctor better. Women use it in more cultures than others. It's a way to express how this pain-suffering moment is happening for you; and not only you as an individual, but also you as a family, as a community. As a medical anthropologist it's important to understand customs and cultures and how that intersects with medicine. These were lively debates."
Rolle was then asked to explain the Cover 2 defense.
Rolle, however, will have to explain through his play to personnel types this week and in the coming months -- whether at the NFL combine in Indianapolis or through private workouts -- that a year away from the game doesn't mean he still can't play like the All-Atlantic Coast Conference performer he was in '08.
"He still has tape from a year ago," Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "We've had players who have blown knees out, missed a year and come back from injury. And he's not coming back from injury, so that's even better."
The book on the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Rolle is one of an intelligent player --- Duh! -- but also a physical player who is a good tackler in the open field. He averaged 69 tackles over his three seasons in Tallahassee, but totaled just one interception in his career.
The lack of plays on the ball will be scrutinized closely during the evaluation process.
"This guy, I think, looks pretty natural with what he's done the first couple days," said Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano, who is heading the South squad this week. "Obviously, he's a very bright guy and a lot of this stuff comes easy to him. He looks like he really enjoys football and enjoys being out there again."
The closest Rolle got to football while in England was playing some sandlot rugby, though renowned trainer Tom Shaw, out of Disney's Wide World of Sports, gave his client a three-hour workout regimen that Rolle followed five days a week. He kept tabs on the Seminoles by watching games on his computer. In October, he went to see Tampa Bay play New England at London's Wembley Stadium, an outing that spoke to him as a football player.
"It reinvigorated my spirit," he said.
His football spirit now needs to reinvigorate all his athletic skills and make believers out of NFL decision-makers, who also want to be convinced this brilliant young man really wants to play football for a while before moving on to what should be a magnificent medical career.
"A lot of people want to see what kind of commitment I have to football. They want to know my passion," Rolle said. "The best I can say is, 'Just watch me perform on the field. Watch me clap it up and whoop it up with my teammates.' Football is not out of my system. It's still a part of my life and a part of me."