By Ryan Leong
Rolando McClain, LB #55
Weight: 259 lbs
Hometown: Decatur, Ala.
Experience: 3rd season (all with Raiders)
It’s been a tumultuous time for linebacker Rolando McClain with the Silver and Black because of his off the field brushes with the law.
Selected by Oakland in the first round as the eighth overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, McClain has incredible potential with his speed and playmaking ability.
Born in Athens, Ala., McClain attended Decatur High School in Decatur and played both basketball and football. As a senior he was an Orlando Sentinel All-Southern team selection and a Parade All-American, and he was selected to play in the first Offense-Defense All-American Bowl. He recorded 106 tackles and earned All-Region 8 accolades at linebacker. He also earned all-state honors as a tight end.
With Alabama, he played under coach Nick Saban from 2007-2009. In his freshman season he played all 13 games with eight starts and was named Freshman All-America by the Sporting News. He had two interceptions against Colorado in the 2007 Independence Bowl.
In his sophomore year he was a finalist for the Butkus award. He garnered third team All-America honors from the Associated Press and first team All-SEC recognition.
McClain would win the Butkus Award after his junior season. He also took home the coveted Jack Lambert Award as the nation’s top linebacker helping lead Alabama to the National Championship and a unanimous first team All-America selection. Days after winning the BCS title game, McClain would forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft.
In his first year with the Raiders, he started 15 games and would be named to the Sporting News All-Rookie team. He finished fifth among NFL rookies with 85 tackles (59 solo).
He made his way onto the highlight reels with his spectacular WWE style body slam of St. Louis Rams receiver Danny Amendola. McClain fit the bad boy image of the Raiders perfectly, receiving a $5,000 fine from the NFL for that hit. A league spokesman said McClain was fined because he unnecessarily slammed the opponent to the ground.
In 2011 he would again play in 15 games with 14 starts, and was second on the team with 99 tackles (77 solo). He also racked up five sacks.
It hasn’t been all peaches and cream for McClain. Last November, he allegedly threatened to kill a man and fired a gun next to his head. McClain had been sentenced to 180 days in jail for multiple charges, including assault, stemming from a fight in his hometown of Decatur. A judge recently cleared McClain of all charges and will serve no jail time after the man who made the accusations decided not to go forward with the case.
On top of all that, McClain has fallen out of favor with the emergence of teammate Miles Burris. He lost his job in the nickel defense to Burris after four games this season and has been a part-time player ever since.
Given his legal troubles and his lack of playing time, it’s likely the troubled but talented McClain, who is due to make $ 4 million next year, could be traded by the Raiders in the off-season.
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Ryan Leong has reported on over 2,800 games in the Bay Area since 1998, covering the Sharks, Giants, A’s, Warriors, 49ers, Raiders and the local college teams for radio networks and wire services. Having the best seat in the house to watch sports has been a thrill and Ryan still enjoys going to the games giving fans some insight and perspective on the players and coaches. His work can be found on Examiner.com.