Print and Go Back ESPN.com: AFC North [Print without images]

Thursday, May 16, 2013
What to take from McClain's statement

By Jamison Hensley

This is a statement issued by linebacker Rolando McClain to explain why he decided to retire Wednesday:

"Clearly, my decision to retire has raised some questions. 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."

What can we take from this? This is McClain's first admission something is wrong. As I wrote previously, the hope is for McClain to get his life back on track. The best advice is to stay away from his hometown, where he has been arrested three times in 11 months.

The other point is McClain hasn't closed the door on playing football again, so I'm not sure if we can technically consider this a retirement as much as a break from the game. The Ravens hold his rights by placing him on the retired-reserve list. If -- or perhaps when -- McClain decides to play again, he'll have to do it under a one-year, $700,000 contract with the Ravens, unless Baltimore decides to release him.

McClain doesn't turn 24 until July, so he's still young. He can take a year or two away from the game and still have many years left to play. There's no question he has talent. But during his short NFL career, he has gained the reputation for being uncoachable and a character risk.

So if McClain decides he wants to play football again, he'll be able to do it only if he convinces the Ravens or another team that he has changed and is committed to playing this time.