Back in December when Rolando McClain’s latest legal woes began I called for the Oakland Raiders to shutdown their young defender for the rest of the season immediately. As you might expect my opinion was met with plenty of negative feedback calling for patience while the process played out.
Well the process is played and as it turns out the Raiders could be without McClain given his 180-day jail sentence. For the record McClain’s lawyer is appealing the judgement so odds are this will drag on for sometime.
Regardless the reality is McClain won’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Reggie McKenzie’s first exposure to McClain is of his middle linebacker wearing a suit in court instead of wearing a helmet on the field where he should be with his teammates during the first OTA.
For me there were never any concerns regarding McClain’s innocence or guilt. More to the point he plays a position of leadership yet has none of the makings of a leader. True leaders don’t put themselves in a situation where the court will decide their fate, at least not during the season when the team needs them most.
True leaders accept responsibility for their faults while making amends for their mistakes, they certainly don’t grin at the camera as if something is funny about being arrested.
Most of all true leaders keep their heads down when they’re excused from the team for family reasons. They remain focused on how their bills are paid by respecting the team no matter the circumstances of their absence from the team. On all accounts McClain has failed to live up to the expectations of a leader.
I still stand by my original take that they did him no favors by allowing him to play. McClain’s court ruling wasn’t necessary to know he was guilty of bad judgment. Now the Raiders have the ability to punish McClain taken out of their hands and placed squarely on the desk of one Roger Goodell. Even if McClain avoids jail time with his retrial he certainly won’t avoid a suspension by Warden Goodell.
And while we’re at it it’s not like McClain has looked anything like the franchise defender Oakland envisioned when they drafted him.
Notice I said “they” with regards to the faction that brought McClain into the silver and black family. Because “they” is not McKenzie.
McKenzie’s Raiders won’t tolerate selfish and foolish acts like what McClain engaged in.
McKenzie’s Raiders aren’t on scholarship. The men that will take the field this coming season will earn their keep. Currently McClain is keeping his job on merit only. If we were talking about a 5th round pick that just got handed six months of jail time the decision would have been made before the judge banged his gavel. He’d be shipped out like an order of Omaha steaks – ASAP.
But since we’re talking McClain, a top 10 pick with plenty of potential, then the stance on his future is much different but it shouldn’t be.
The Raiders have nothing to gain by keeping an immature and underachieving player positioned as a leader when he’s not prepared to lead a two-man parade. We’re not talking Ray Lewis here who had his own legal issues. Lewis had already proven himself on the field before a court case sullied his reputation. McClain has proven nothing except that he’s untrustworthy.
I’m all for everyone being given a second or third chance in life. We all make mistakes. The difference is second chances must be earned. McClain’s actions immediately following his arrest would suggest he feels entitled to a second chance. I say cut him loose and let him earn it by convincing another team he’s ready to be an adult. If he becomes an All-Pro so be it. This is about being fair and not about being right.
I’m pretty sure the Raiders could have been just as bad against the run and missed the playoffs without McClain. So how are they better in any way with him? Reggie McKenzie owes it to his team to let them know he is no Hue Jackson willing to make selfish decisions based on selfish desires. Every man on the roster must be treated equally regardless of their contract or draft status. It’s the right thing to do which is what being a Raider is really all about.