The Rejection of Myron Rolle

The NFL Wanted Him... Until He Was Named a Rhodes Scholar
Aaron Gordan
SB Nation


In a small study room in the student lounge of the Florida State University College of Medicine, Myron Rolle slumps in his chair behind a school-issued laptop, relaxing between classes. His athletic frame and broad shoulders extend beyond the screen in an aggressive annexation of airspace, creating a commanding presence. He cannot be ignored.

It has often been this way. When Rolle was 3 years old, he moved with his parents and four brothers from the Bahamas to Galloway Township, N.J. His father worked for Citibank and Myron grew up in a solidly middle-class home in a family devoted to achievement, education and love. As a promising student and athlete, Rolle accepted a scholarship to attend The Hun School of Princeton, a prestigious preparatory school, where he stood out on several levels. "There were maybe seven or eight black kids in the whole school, and all of us were athletes," he tells me. His dad would pick him up from school in a Ford Taurus while the other students would climb into their parents' Bentleys. On weekends, Rolle would be invited to yacht parties or to sit in floor seats at Knicks games. "Honestly, that situation was a little weird, adjusting to kids who had a lot of money. I never really felt like I was around people who are like me."

Nevertheless, Rolle thrived at Hun. He had a 4.0 GPA and accumulated 21 Advanced Placement credits toward his college education. He played the saxophone and starred in the school's production of "Fiddler on the Roof." And in 2005, at the peak of college recruitment season, he received scholarship offers almost daily, culminating in an astonishing 83 invitations to play Division I football.

Unlike many top recruits, Rolle didn't choose his college based on which coach told him he'd be a first-round pick or other frivolities. Since he was a boy, he had always been fascinated with the nervous system, particularly the brain, awed by its power. Myron had already decided that after football he wanted to become a neurosurgeon and had to put himself in position to excel both academically and athletically. "I wanted to look for a school that I enjoyed watching [play football] first. But I wanted the school to accept all my AP credits. Also, do they have a medical school on campus?" When Rolle met Garrett Johnson, a Florida State University alum, champion shot putter and Rhodes Scholar, he found a school that demonstrated it had the capacity to allow him to do both. He graduated a semester early from Hun and started at Florida State in January of 2006.