December 2nd, 2008
08:17 PM ET

Will he or won’t he?

Editor’s Note: He was a division 1 college football player with a pre-med degree… and now the highest distinction for any student: the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. Myron Rolle has a difficult decision, head to the NFL or head to Oxford? Watch Don Lemon’s full report tonight on AC360°, 11p ET

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/02/art.rolle2.jpg width=292 height=320]
Don Lemon
CNN Anchor

As interesting as you might find Myron Rolle's personal story and accomplishments, the bottom line is will he accept the Rhodes Scholarship, or go for almost certain millionaire status in the NFL? It’s a tough choice. What would you do?

I didn’t ask him right away. I wanted to save it. I enjoyed the suspense. And frankly, I really liked playing out the scenarios in my head. If Rolle takes the money now from the NFL, he could quickly realize his dream of helping needy children. And who knows if the NFL will even be interested when he returns from Oxford University in England? A lot could change in two years. A Rhodes scholarship, however, doesn’t guarantee riches. But it is an accomplishment that only a select few can claim. Former President Bill Clinton, New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley, General Wesley Clark, to name a few; have certainly made their marks on society. It’s a real moral dilemma.

I met Rolle for the first time at dinner in the player’s cafeteria in the stadium. Rolle wore a designer suit by Sean John and a Burberry necktie; which made me self-conscious about wearing blue jeans and an open collar. The rest of his teammates wore sweats and as they walked passed us mumbled, “hey Mr. President” or “hey Mr. Rhodes.” All in good fun though, it’s obvious how proud they are of him.

In just under an hour I learned more about Myron Rolle than I know about some of my own relatives. Because of good genes, he basically eats whatever he wants. His dad and mom emigrated from the Bahamas before Rolle was born. His family is his main support system. His mother, Beverly and three of his brothers moved to Tallahassee from New Jersey to be near him. His dad and his other brother visit on weekends. At least one of his family members has been at every single football game, basketball game, baseball game or school play. He’s quite the performer. But as fate would have it, his mom told me, the only event her “baby ever went to alone” was his final Rhodes scholarship interview in Alabama. In an island accent Beverly Rolle said, “We waited on pins and needles. And it just happened to fall on the same day as his game in Maryland.” Myron Rolle told me he never had a second thought about what to do. He had to go to Birmingham. So, with legendary coach, Bobby Bowden’s and the NCAA’s blessings, the university chartered a private jet to get their star safety back in time to finish the game. Fans waited. His family waited. They heard nothing for hours. Finally, Rolle called his mom who he calls “Mummy.”

As we sat in an empty Florida State stadium, cameras rolling, Myron Rolle recited the call to me. “Put Mummy on the phone,” he said. “Mummy, I won.” She screams, "AAAAAAAHHHHHH."

“Mummy, relax, I have to tell you more,” Rolle says.” Then more screams. He says he had to hang up and text his dad and brothers because his mom couldn’t quite gain her composure. Being a momma’s boy I understood and it almost made me cry. I could see my mom doing the same thing. Mothers are so emotional. That’s why we love them.

So, the time had come for me to end my suspense. “You are going to take the scholarship and go to Oxford?” I ask. And he answers. But I’m not going to ruin the suspense for you. You’ll have to watch the story on AC360°.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Don Lemon • Football
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Anthony

    I am currently a student at Florida State and I have to say I couldn't be more proud of Myron. He is by far the most respectable player on our team and I love watching him play on Saturdays and as much i would love to see him playing on Sundays too there is no reason why he should not take this scholarship. I will be very disappointed if he does not. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for someone and there is no way he shouldn't take the scholarship. I'm also happy the NCAA allowed him to take the jet from Alabama to Maryland for the game as well as starting the game later.

    GREAT JOB MYRON!!! You're someone to look up to!

    December 3, 2008 at 8:41 pm |
  2. David

    Don, thanks for bringing us this story. I read the blog but i want to see the story. i missed it. This is exactly the kind of stories that should take precedence over the stereotypical bad/dumb athlete story. Good going Myron and Don! Two role models i look up to.

    December 3, 2008 at 1:40 pm |
  3. Antoine P. Brunson

    The lure of NFL fame and finances must be great and can be fulfiling for a time but a great education lasts forever.

    December 3, 2008 at 12:53 pm |
  4. Derrick, Atlanta

    Go Noles!

    I'm an avid FSU fan and with all the thugs that they recruit, glad to see a kid with some morals, brains and this kid can actually open a can of whoop azz on the football field. Wow!

    It's a tough decision. Yes, Oxford will open many doors but not as many as people think and there's no guarantee that he'll get big time money. This is still America. Won't get all deep with that.

    Now, the NFL. Immediate millionaire, immediate star, immediate endorsements, immediate help from the NFL, sponsors, boosters, organizations, etc to start whatever charitable organization he wants to start.

    But then there's that Oxford thing. How many kids get a chance at that? Especially when you’re a black athlete from the inner city of poverty.

    Tough decision for the kid but he'll do great either way.

    December 3, 2008 at 12:40 pm |
  5. Katherine

    Take the scholarship! After 2 years the NFL will need him, more than he need them. The NFL suffers from the perception (thanks to a few) that their players are a bunch of over-indulged thugs. The NFL would be crazy not to offer him anything he wants in an effort to win back fans that have found the antics of a number of its players repulsive and pathetic.

    Then the questions would be - could a man that smart put up with the likes of Vick and Pacman???

    December 3, 2008 at 9:36 am |
  6. JC-Los Angeles

    Now that's a student athlete.

    December 3, 2008 at 12:32 am |
  7. Asad J

    My opinion is that he should take the Rhodes Scholarship. Football careers are unpredictable and can end suddenly because of injury. A Rhodes Scholarship and a degree from Oxford can open many doors. Also, I doubt that football will give him the intellectual fulfillment of a career in medicine.

    December 3, 2008 at 12:07 am |
  8. Don, WA

    I think the ball's in his hands – I don't think he could ever regret taking the Rhodes Scholorship now though.

    December 2, 2008 at 10:47 pm |
  9. Dina Scruggs

    I did not get a chance to watch AC360 tonight, so I will look for the re-run. I hope he chose the scholarship! What an amazing opportunity. If the NFL is not interested in him in a few years than that will be their loss. He can help needy children in other ways until he makes the "big bucks". Which it sounds like is destined for him regardless of what career he chooses. This is a special kid!

    December 2, 2008 at 10:32 pm |