- Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer
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OXNARD, Calif. – On Friday, Dallas Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain was found guilty on two misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest in a Decatur, Alabama, courtroom. On Saturday morning he was taking part in a special-teams walkthrough.
McClain spoke for the first time since being acquired in a trade from the Baltimore Ravens earlier this month.
“It’s my first day here. Really just this will be my first practice with the guys, this will be my first time seeing the guys run around,” McClain said. “I’m just taking it for my first day, enjoy my mistakes, enjoy when I do something well. Yesterday I was sitting in a court room not knowing what was going to happen. Today I’m here with the Dallas Cowboys with an opportunity to make a football team and fight for a position. You can’t argue with that.”
McClain said he was surprised by the judge’s decision but would not elaborate. He appealed Friday’s verdict. but the expectation is that he will not miss any more time on the field.
McClain retired twice after stints with the Oakland Raiders, who made him the eighth pick of the 2010 draft, and Ravens and was involved in numerous off-field incidents. Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones had extensive conversations with Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome when the teams made the trade, and coach Jason Garrett spoke with Alabama coach Nick Saban, McClain's college coach.
“My life wasn’t going in the right path,” McClain said “Me being a young father of two, I had to sit down and realize I have things I need to do to be a better man for those two little boys. The best thing for me to do is get away from football and work on my personal life. I told Mr. Newsome when I felt like I had that clear I would come back. Unfortunately when I did come back everything wasn’t settled. At the end of the day, I still have to stay true to my word and true to my family.”
The Cowboys are taking a low risk in McClain. If he does not make the team, the Ravens do not receive any compensation. He is also being paid the minimum.
The Cowboys have an obvious need with Sean Lee out for the year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. McClain has not played since Nov. 12 when he was with the Raiders, but he was suspended by the team for two games and did not play the rest of the season.
“His slate is completely clean with us,” Garrett said.
A phone call with owner and general manager Jerry Jones after the trade made a big impression on McClain.
“No, I think he convinced me I needed to play again,” McClain said. “He called me from Turkey and I figured that had to be an expensive phone call, so … It was pretty serious with me from that point.”