The hardest part about writing a fawning profile of Myron Rolle might be getting over to Oxford to interview him. Today, though, The Wall Street Journal adds a wrinkle: Will Rolle's decision to postpone the NFL actually pay off financially?
Thanks to a few major newspapers and magazines, you can already recite the vitals of Rolle's Wikipedia page. And why not? When stories about Rolle are sandwiched by scandals and transgressions, the Rhodes Scholar is a wonderful reminder that every so often, the ubiquitous phrase "student-athlete" actually means something. One day, fans might be proud to wear his jersey or buy a product he endorses — that is, if any company wants to pay someone who trains on cricket pitches and has never seen the NFL field. In the end, perhaps it won't be sufficient that Rolle is the most high-profile athlete to win a Rhodes Scholarship since Bill Bradley. Maybe he should have just gone to the NFL Draft and ditched the idea of med school long ago:
Rolle's success still will depend heavily on how well he plays once he reaches the NFL. His agents concede that he will compete against a more talented draft class of defensive backs this April than he would have last spring. At Florida State, Mr. Rolle was among his team's top tacklers but only registered one interception over his entire NCAA career. Some scouts already view Mr. Rolle's delay as a sign that he's not serious about becoming an elite player and doubt if he is training well enough in England. And since he isn't playing, some companies have hesitated to sign him.
"With tight marketing dollars and budgets … they want to know hard and fast, 'What can we do with Myron right now?'" said Jeremiah Donati, one of Mr. Rolle's representatives. "And if he doesn't have an NFL team or an NFL city and he's not performing on the field this year, it's tough."
But one branding expert said athletic performance would be the main driver of Mr. Rolle's market value. "He's still got to win the starting job and he has to perform," said James Fritz, vice president of a Santa Monica marketing and branding agency. "If he makes the team but he's on the bench, it's going to be a long shot for him."
Rolle currently boasts one endorsement deal with a company that "manufactures football helmets designed to provide extra protection against brain injuries," so apparently, he reads The New York Times — err, International Herald Tribune — between seminars at Oxford. He presides over his foundation, of course, like every other 2009 college graduate. His Web site — he has one of those, too — has separate sections for Athlete, Scholar and Philanthropist. He's rumored to be the frontrunner for TIME's 2010 Person of the Year. And he'll probably cure cancer.
But please. Let me know when the dude wins the Super Bowl — or does something that, you know, actually matters.
Can Scholars Make Dollars in the NFL? [Wall Street Journal]
Myron Rolle On Postponing the NFL Draft [WSJ Video]
On His Way to the NFL Draft, a Year of Fulfillment in England [New York Times]
An Answer to the Bradley Riddle [SI Vault]