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Monday, April 21, 2014
No surprise how McClain drama ended

By Jamison Hensley

Rolando McClain is walking away from football for good, the linebacker informed ESPN's Seth Wickersham.

No one should be surprised by how this fruitless drama ended. In fact, it would have been surprising if McClain had turned his career around and became a productive player this season for the Ravens.

McClain
Let's recap McClain's one year under contract with the Ravens: arrest, retirement, announced comeback, failed workout, reinstatement and retirement again. This had disaster written all over it, and only optimists, apologists and the Ravens agreed on giving another chance to McClain.

Other than the label of being a first-round pick and his age (24), McClain gave no reason for the Ravens' continued commitment and provided plenty of red flags to cut him. The Ravens signed McClain to a contract last April, and he was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest 10 days later. Then, 11 months after abruptly retiring, the Ravens gave McClain the opportunity to work out for them, and he couldn't finish the conditioning test.

The fact that McClain quit again only four days after the Ravens reinstated him off the reserve-retired list actually follows the pattern of disappointment. While there was a report that the plan was in place for McClain to report to the team's offseason program Monday, it's apparent that the Ravens gave McClain the weekend to decide whether he wanted to play.

In a way, McClain did the Ravens a favor. He could've strung this out longer if he had participated in the workouts and later chose to retire again. The Ravens now know they can't depend on McClain going forward, even though they had to know it already by his repeated actions. It was always false hope.

This was McClain's text to Wickersham: "I gotta follow my heart. It ain't football. If football made me complete I would play. But whenever I think of it my heart pulls me away from whatever reason. ... This means I'm done."

The most puzzling part about this was the Ravens' willingness to stand by McClain. I understand general manager Ozzie Newsome's ties to Alabama, where McClain played, and coach Nick Saban, but this went against what the Ravens stand for as an organization.

The Ravens always say they want players who "Play Like A Raven." That's defined by work ethic and a passion for the game. McClain was really an anti-Raven, retiring two times in a one-year span. I'm betting Brett Favre thinks there was too much drama over this.

In the end, all the Ravens lost in their 12 months with McClain was time and energy. There was no guaranteed money in his one-year deal.

Is there a chance that McClain will attempt another comeback next year or in the future? I wouldn't count it out. I just don't think another team is going to give McClain another chance.

He never lived up to expectations with the Oakland Raiders. His resume includes a suspension and multiple arrests. His best opportunity was with the Ravens, and he blew it twice. The Ravens would have to be desperate to ever consider McClain again.

When he first retired, McClain said it was done to get his "priorities straight." Let's hope for his sake, as a person and not as a player, he gets it right the second time.