Is former Raider McClain a changed man?

October, 30, 2013
10/30/13
5:40
PM ET
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- There always seemed to be something a little more dark and foreboding about Rolando McClain in his three years with the Oakland Raiders. And in Seth Wickersham’s revealing ESPN The Magazine piece on the former Raiders middle linebacker, McClain does nothing to dissuade that notion.

McClain, who was waived by the Raiders on April 5 after getting $23 million guaranteed as the No. 8 overall pick in the 2010 draft, retired from the NFL after signing a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. He has returned to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Wickersham basically rides along with the 24-year-old McClain for his immediate life after the NFL… and three arrests in a 16-month period.

Among the more revealing, but not at all surprising, scenes:
AT 7 A.M. on an October Thursday, McClain sits in his garage with a silver revolver on his lap. Not one to fuss over his image -- it can't get much worse -- McClain holds up the gun as casually as he would a phone and opens the cylinder to show that it's filled with empty shells. "It's to kill copperheads," he says.

Months ago, he wasn't so calm. "I was feeling like Aaron Hernandez or something," he says, "like I just wanted to kill somebody." He remembers watching Hernandez get hauled out of his house in handcuffs, later charged with first-degree murder, and being genuinely scared he'd end up the same way.

Gazing at the lake, his eyes suddenly get big. "I wish I had my gun, man. I'd shoot that turtle. You ever eat turtle? It's some good meat."

Alone at night, he even weighed the merits of raising a gun to his head. "You sit there and think, 'Why am I even here?' " he says. "If I'm gone, all this s--- will go away."

McClain, who clashed with Raiders coach Dennis Allen and would have been cut sooner by general manager Reggie McKenzie were it not for the pending salary cap hit, said he will “probably” play in the NFL next season. But after being seen as a can't miss prospect coming out of Alabama, he also said he lost his zest for the game.

Paul Gutierrez

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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