#collegesafety | Former NFL player Myron Rolle battling coronavirus as a neurosurgeon


Tennessee Titans safety Myron Rolle in 2011. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Ten years ago, the Tennessee Titans used one of their sixth-round picks (No. 207 overall) in the 2010 NFL Draft on Myron Rolle, a standout defensive back from Florida State. He was a standout because of his football talent — third-team All-American in 2008 — but also because of his academics.

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Many thought he could be a first-round draft pick, and that was his goal. But in 2008, Rolle was named a Rhodes Scholar, the United States’ highest academic honor. He skipped his senior season of football at Florida State to pursue post-grad work at Oxford University in England, ultimately earning a Master of Science in medical anthropology.

When he returned and entered the NFL Draft, teams were concerned about his commitment to football. Thus, he slid to the sixth round. Rolle spent three years in the NFL, though he never appeared in a regular-season game.

He later returned to Florida State to earn his medical degree, and went on to study neurosurgery at Harvard. Rolle is now a third-year neurosurgery resident at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He’s one of the many medical workers on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19, and he recently detailed a day in his life with ESPN:

“Football has never left me,” Rolle said in the video. “I still wake up in the morning and think of the operating room like a game. Like it’s showtime, let’s perform. I gotta do what I go to do, because people are counting on us right now. This is our time to help very sick people. So that motivation continues to drive me every single day.”

Rolle has long had a heart to help others. He detailed one poignant moment in his life to ESPN years ago, describing a time when he began crying upon seeing a waitress full of “suffering and sadness.”

“Why am I feeling this way? I’ve never felt this way about a stranger,” Rolle wondered. “Why am I hurting? Why is my soul hurting?”

He eventually turned to Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews for help.

“Andrews talked about the Bible,” wrote ESPN’s Wright Thompson, “and he told Rolle that he had an uncontrollable love, and that God wanted him to see this woman and feel her pain and be inspired to do something. God, his coach told him, wants you to help her. … [Rolle] didn’t need to know someone to love them, to want to serve them. Feeling the link between two souls who walked different lives, and had different backgrounds, changed him.”

Rolle often speaks about his faith, describing himself as a “believer” and “brother in Christ” on social media. After getting married recently, he posted, “God’s good.”

In college, Rolle often struggled with which career he should pursue — an athletic one or medical one. And he would talk about how each pursuit made him feel. In 2017, he described to the Washington Post the first time he was able to assist in a surgery that removed a tumor from a child’s brain.

“I obviously felt adrenaline rushes playing football, and I felt big when I made a big play and the crowd is going wild,” he said. “But there was never anything like that, where the feeling just completely took over my whole body. It was like, this is it. This is the calling.

“Maybe football happened because I’m big, fast, tall, whatever. Maybe God put that in me because these are my physical attributes, and I had a mind for the game. But I don’t know if everyone finds that thing where just their whole body becomes so charged up.”

Rolle found that playing football was a season in his life, and practicing medicine became his career. But serving and helping others is his calling.

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