A Tribute To Rolando McClain's Brief, Brilliant NFL Career

23-year-old Ravens linebacker Rolando McClain retired from the NFL today, general manager Ozzie Newsome announced. But McClain will not be known as a Raven. He signed there just a little more than a month ago. He will instead be remembered as one of the Raideriest Raiders that ever Raidered.

The Raiders picked McClain—a Crimson Tide standout who decided to forgo his senior year—eighth overall in the 2010 draft, right between Joe Haden and C.J. Spiller. The pick, wrote Mel Kiper then, was a slight reach, but McClain would be ready to play right away. "I love his instincts," Kiper wrote.

Those instincts! His first season passed without incident; he played in all but one game, racking up 73 tackles and helping Tom Cable's Raiders to an 8-8 finish. But then, a little less than a month after the final game, Rolando McClain's life back home took a strange turn. Here's the Decatur (Ala.) Daily:

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Former University of Alabama football star Rolando McClain called Morgan County 911 to report being shot at while driving Thursday evening in Southwest Decatur, according to transcripts of the phone call and police.

"Someone shot at my car," he said in the 6:56 p.m. call. "Still got the bullet hole in it."

During the call, McClain, 21, said the shooters were "one of the families or whatever on Eighth (Avenue)," and that they were standing outside, not in a vehicle, when they shot at him.

This incident would soon become quaint by Rolando McClain standards, thanks to the pretty perp walk (above) in November 2011. McClain, police said, got in a fight with another man in Decatur. He allegedly aimed a gun at his counterpart's head, then—upon being begged not to shoot—pointed it another direction and fired. When police came to arrest him, he made that face. (Our readers later made fine Photoshops from it.) He had eight tackles in a game against Miami three days later.

What came next in McClainLand? Surprisingly, a bit of a quiet spell. The Raiders had brought in a defense-first coach, Dennis Allen, to replace Hue Jackson, who had replaced Tom Cable. (Nothing like Raider continuity!) Maybe McClain was trying to stay on Allen's good side and out of public attention? If that was his mission, it, uh, didn't really work. McClain squabbled with Allen at a practice in November 2012, and then he left the team's complex in a huff. He posted on Facebook, with glee, "Officially no longer an Oakland Raider!!" But it turned out he was still officially an Oakland Raider, albeit one who would be suspended for the next two games, and would not play in any of the team's final five.

Then another sublime arrest came in January 2013. McClain's old friends, the Decatur police, pulled him over for an illegal window tint. He produced a doctor's note to justify the tint, but they didn't buy it, and gave him a $187 ticket. He took the ticket and signed it, "Fuck Y'all." Police asked if that was his real name. He said yes, and they threw him in jail for providing a false name to an officer. A judge has since dismissed those charges.

In early April, the Raiders decided they were done with McClain. The team had signed former Dolphin Kevin Burnett, and, besides, Allen's 4-3 defense didn't call for a slow-footed situational run stopper. So they cut him. McClain soon signed with the Ravens, a team that just lost its slow run-stopper to retirement.

But McClain decided to get arrested once more for good measure: Decatur cops hit him with disorderly-conduct and resisting-arrest charges for screaming "Fuck the police!" in a crowd. Now he's decamping to Decatur for good, evidently so he can commit year-round to his feud with the police. He doesn't appear to realize he can't win, but, then again, he's 23. He's too young to give up on his dreams.