Dr. Myron L. Rolle is the perfect example of a former football player who has pursued a higher calling years after playing his final down on the gridiron.
Before Rolle committed to the Florida State Seminoles in college, his life goals were to become a Rhodes scholar, NFL player, and pediatric neurosurgeon.
Rolle has ticked two of those three boxes so far. By the time he becomes a certified pediatric surgeon in three to four years, he will have ticked all three.
Rolle has envisioned himself serving the underprivileged for the rest of his medical career. There’s every reason to believe it will happen because he has achieved most of his life goals so far through sheer grit and determination.
Myron L. Rolle may not have been the biggest superstar during his pro football career. However, his life of service off the gridiron has been inspirational, to say the least.
Myron L. Rolle was born to parents Whitney and Beverley in Houston, TX on October 30, 1986. He has four older brothers: Marchant, Marvis, Modecai, and McKinley.
The Rolles are of Bahamian descent. They resided in Nassau, The Bahamas for two years after Myron’s birth. They eventually settled in Galloway, NJ in 1988.
According to Myron Rolle, his father Whitney launched the Caribbean-American Football League in the Bahamas. Several years before Myron was born, Whitney was a vice president at Citibank, per SI.com’s Andy Staples.
Myron, who aced his classes in high school and college, showed why he was so intelligent at an early age.
His brother Marchant taught him phonics when he was a two-year-old toddler. To the former’s astonishment, Myron pronounced the words exactly the same way he did. Marchant couldn’t believe what he had heard – he even rang up their father Whitney in disbelief.
Books also made a profound, life-changing impact on Myron Rolle’s life as a child. One of his older brothers gave him a copy of neurosurgeon Ben Carson’s book “Gifted Hands.” When Myron read the book, he discovered plenty of similarities between Carson’s family and his own.
“Ben Carson planted the seed of neurosurgery in my mind,” Rolle told BET Sports’ Mark Lelinwalla (via Med.FSU.edu) in 2016.
Football also runs deep in Myron’s bloodline – his paternal cousins Samari, Antrel, and Brian played in the National Football League.
Samari Rolle was a Pro Bowl cornerback who played a combined twelve seasons for the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens from 1998 to 2009.
On the other hand, Antrel Rolle was a three-time Pro Bowl defensive back who suited up for three teams – the Arizona Cardinals, New York Giants, and Chicago Bears – from 2005 to 2015.
For his part, Brian was a linebacker who played for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles from 2011 to 2012 and the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts from 2015 to 2016.
Myron joined their ranks when he played safety for the Tennessee Titans from 2010 to 2011.
Myron Rolle was a virtuoso – he was a football player, saxophone player, and singer at Peddle School in Highstown, NJ.
Rolle transferred to the Hun School of Princeton where he maintained an incredible 4.0 GPA. He also excelled at safety for the Hun School Raiders – he had 112 tackles and 14 tackles for loss as a senior in 2005.
Rolle’s excellence on the gridiron and in the classroom prompted 83 schools to offer him a college scholarship.
By the time Myron Rolle went to Florida State University for his official visit, he had already laid out the blueprint for his life.
Rolle told BET.com (via Med.FSU.edu) that his goals were to play in the National Football League, become a Rhodes Scholar, and become a neurosurgeon.
Amazingly, Rolle achieved all of his life goals nearly two decades later.
Myron Rolle eventually chose the Florida State Seminoles because legendary head football coach Bobby Bowden had an excellent track record of sending players to the National Football League.
Sure enough, Rolle achieved his goal of playing in the National Football League after playing for Bowden in Tallahassee, FL.
College Days With The Florida State Seminoles
Myron Rolle attended Florida State University from 2006 to 2008. He majored in exercise science and biology and eventually graduated with a sterling 3.75 GPA.
Rolle was so smart he finished his coursework in two years. He was also a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and Burning Spear leadership circle at Florida State. He was also the vice president of FSU’s Student Athletic Council during his college days.
What I learned playing football at @FSUFootball applies directly to working in medicine. #twopercentway (@thepivot) pic.twitter.com/w8tJqaR27I
— Myron Rolle, MD (@MyronRolle) May 19, 2022
According to Staples, part of Rolle’s pregame preparation in college consisted of a 30-minute shower. He also loved watching the Sopranos and listening to Frank Sinatra on his iPod during his college days at FSU.
Rolle enjoyed his best college football season as a true freshman in 2006. He had 77 total tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, and one interception that year.
Rolle won ACC Defensive Player of the Year and First-Team Freshman All-American honors in 2006. His college football career was off to a great start.
The Seminoles went 7-6 in Rolle’s true freshman season. They beat the UCLA Bruins in the 2006 Emerald Bowl. 44-27.
Rolle had a combined 129 total tackles, seven passes defended, and one forced fumble over the next two seasons.
Florida State averaged eight wins per year from 2007 to 2008. The Seminoles routed the Wisconsin Badgers in the 2008 Champs Sports Bowl, 42-13.
Rolle achieved one of his three life goals during his junior season at FSU in 2008 – he became a Rhodes Scholar. This postgraduate award allows international students to study at the prestigious University of Oxford in England.
Rolle had prepared himself for this moment years before. He peppered former FSU shot-put star and 2006 Rhodes scholar Garrett Johnson with questions for more than a year. Whitney Rolle asked him one Rhodes interview-related question daily for nearly one month.
On the day of the actual interview in Birmingham, AL, panel members asked Rolle for book recommendations. He promptly rattled off The Holy Bible, “The Great Gatsby,” and former FSU Seminoles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Warrick Dunn’s autobiography, per SI.com.
They also asked him about his opinion on the recently-concluded 2008 presidential elections and how to take the country’s healthcare system to the next level.
Rolle, who was an aspiring neurosurgeon, envisioned universal healthcare as the answer. He used his friend Elliott Hawkes, who had sustained a biking injury in Switzerland as an example. Despite being a foreign national, Hawkes received top-notch healthcare in Europe.
According to Staples, Hawkes shared his experience with Rolle at a cocktail party just several days before the interview.
When I was in college at Florida State, my defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews taught me to make small progress each day. That same approach – called the 2% Way – helped me learn to do brain surgery.#twopercentway pic.twitter.com/3CHA6sxBd8
— Myron Rolle, MD (@MyronRolle) April 25, 2022
Once the final round of interviews concluded, Rolle and twelve other aspirants waited in an adjacent conference room for two hours.
Rolle told SI.com in 2008 that he remembered one male aspirant who sat beside him. The latter was so nervous he repeatedly shifted in his chair and pretended he was reading The New York Times.
After two agonizing hours, committee chairman Drayton Nabers, Jr. called out Rolle’s name.
“The first thing I did was put my head down and thank God for the opportunity and for the moment,” Rolle told Staples in the fall of 2008.
Myron Rolle joined the elite group of Rhodes Scholars whose ranks include Bill Clinton, Bill Bradley, Kris Kristofferson, and Ivan A. Getting.
Rolle sent text messages to his family members to announce the good news. His brother Marvis, who was driving to Maryland, almost smashed his vehicle after reading the text, per SI.com.
Rolle had another challenge shortly after the Rhodes scholarship interview concluded – he had a game to play against the Maryland Terrapins some 800 miles away less than three hours later.
By the time Rolle disembarked from his chartered flight and arrived at Byrd Stadium in College Park, MD, FSU led by two touchdowns late in the first half.
When Rolle checked in with 1:30 left in the second quarter, Seminoles fans in attendance gave him a rousing standing ovation. During one timeout, back judge Tommy Pace came over to Rolle to congratulate him, per Staples.
Rolle finished with two solo tackles in FSU’s 37-3 rout of Maryland. He saluted the Seminoles fans after the final whistle.
For his part, Seminoles head football coach Bobby Bowden – the main reason why Myron Rolle chose FSU – considered Rolle’s Rhodes Scholarship and road win over Maryland a double victory.
“It was like two wins, to be honest with you,” Bowden told SI.com in November 2008.
Aside from Rolle’s Rhodes scholarship, he also earned several accolades in college, including:
- Watkins Award
- Arthur Ashe Sports Scholar
- FWAA Second-Team All-ACC
- Associated Press Third-Team All-American
- CoSIDA Academic All-American
- Touchdown Club of Columbus Male Sportsman of the Year
Shortly after Myron Rolle passed the panel interview, he asked to postpone his postgraduate studies at Oxford so he could play in the National Football League.
He asked Oxford management if he could put off his studies to a later date, but they said no – it’s now or never for Myron Rolle.
Rolle eventually decided to attend the University of Oxford.
“I thought it was the best decision that would behoove my future interests and kind of place me in the category of being a role model for young people to get inspiration from, choosing academics over athletics,” Rolle told Lelinwalla some eight years later.
Rolle eventually got his Master of Science in medical anthropology from the University of Oxford in 2010.
Rolle didn’t let the year away from the gridiron deter him from preparing for a career in the National Football League.
He also told Lelinwalla he tried to maintain elite fitness levels during his time at Oxford. When he returned to the United States, he participated in the Senior Bowl and the Combine at Pro Day.
Rolle’s hard work paid off – he was on his way to achieving another of his life goals just a few months later.
Pro Football Career
The Tennessee Titans made Myron Rolle the 207th overall selection of the 2010 NFL Draft. He signed a four-year contract with a base value of approximately $1.7979 million, per NationalFootballPost.com’s Aaron Wilson.
My favorite chapter title in the book is, “With the 207th Pick…” That speaks to my journey in the NFL and the disappointment that I felt there, but an important pivot point that I was able to grow using the 2% Way to improve. pic.twitter.com/lf0fLNrRLX
— Myron Rolle, MD (@MyronRolle) June 17, 2022
Rolle told Sports Illustrated’s Selena Roberts that he doesn’t drink alcohol several weeks after the draft festivities concluded.
At the time, Rolle knew what naysayers were thinking – he didn’t take football seriously so he slid down to the sixth round of the draft.
Rolle let their opinions slide and savored his short stint on the NFL gridiron. His rookie year coincided with Jeff Fisher’s last as Titans head coach – a tenure that began seventeen years earlier when the team was still known as the Houston Oilers.
Rolle told BET Sports (via FSU’s College of Medicine’s official website) that he spent the 2010 NFL season on the Titans’ practice squad. Tennessee released him during the 2011 NFL campaign.
Rolle signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2012. He was a member of their practice squad.
During Rolle’s time in Pittsburgh, he rubbed elbows with Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, his Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity brother.
After the Steelers released Rolle prior to the 2012 NFL campaign, he entertained thoughts of playing elsewhere.
However, he also felt he couldn’t continue executing bone-jarring hits on the gridiron. He also told FSU’s College of Medicine’s official website NFL executives always discussed his Rhodes scholarship, his humanitarian trip with former President Bill Clinton, and his other off-field endeavors.
It was a sharp contrast to his teammates, who were always on the receiving end of questions about blitz packages and other football-related matters.
Myron Rolle made some decent money playing at football’s highest level for two years. He also sustained minimal injuries and built more connections than he ever imagined.
After Rolle’s release from the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2012, he left the pro gridiron for medical school. Sadly, he never took the field for a regular-season game in the National Football League.
Dear aspiring athlete: compete just as hard as you can. But think also about where football is taking you. Even if you made it pro, your career may be short lived – and that’s OK. There’s life after sports.
Next thing I knew, I was in medical school, becoming a neurosurgeon. pic.twitter.com/YhLHlf5NlC
— Myron Rolle, MD (@MyronRolle) July 15, 2022
Rolle put things in proper perspective some four years after he made that crucial life decision.
“Football is great,” Rolle told BET Sports (via Med.FSU.com) in 2016. “You make interceptions, tackles, get the people excited, but then saving a life or helping somebody…that’s a big deal and you can truly make an indelible footprint in a community and in someone’s life going forward.”
Myron Rolle married pediatric dentist, Dr. Latoya Legrand, in 2017. They currently have four children – two sets of twins named Zora, Zayed, Zanzi, and Zafar.
Happy Mother's Day week! My wife Latoya is the mother of our children—and a pediatric dentist. She encouraged me to share the stories that have enabled me to overcome adversity in my new book. She has been a sense of peace, continually drawing me back to Scripture. pic.twitter.com/x9nB4sVHSF
— Myron Rolle, MD (@MyronRolle) May 12, 2022
Rolle broke down his typical daily med school routine to BET Sports in 2016:
- Wake up at 4:30 am or 5:00 am.
- Do a routine check on patients, examine their laboratory results, and meet with the overnight nursing staff.
- Give feedback to his attending physician and do rounds in the hospital together.
- Finish his duties at 6:00 p.m. or 6:30 p.m.
- Work out
- Talk to family members on the phone
- Check his Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts
- Study some interesting medical cases
Rolle’s neurosurgery residency at Harvard Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital coincided with the COVID-19 outbreak in the spring of 2020.
Rolle told CNBC Make it (via CNBC.com’s Scipioni) in April 2020 that his football background – where coaches make adjustments on the fly – prepared him for that critical moment in his medical career.
Rolle worked 24-hour shifts during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. He told CNBC Make It that he typically reported for work at four or five in the morning.
Rolle compared Massachusetts General Hospital’s COVID-19 screening for health workers to strict airport security. He and other employees had to get in a queue, wear a mask, and prove they didn’t have any symptoms of the deadly disorder.
Once Rolle cleared the health screening check, he sanitized his hands and then wore his gown and gloves.
Rolle spent most of his time in the hospital’s ER operating room. He told CNBC Make It that he tried to limit his time inside, so he could minimize his risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Rolle considered nurses the real heroes during the COVID-19 outbreak because they interacted with patients several times during the day and consequently increased their chances of exposure.
Sometimes, Rolle’s shift went beyond 24 hours because of the extra paperwork he had to accomplish.
He told CNBC Make It that he was fortunate to get one or two hours of sleep when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out – his pager went off at all hours of the day at the time.
Despite Rolle’s sleep deficiency, he found solace in prayer and The Holy Bible during the pandemic. He also made time for exercise by running outside his condo or doing pushups before his workday began.
Rolle used the stairs in his hospital building as a makeshift cardiovascular exercise machine – he typically ran 26 floors during his shift to stay in shape while on the job.
Rolle’s wife Latoya remained in Georgia while he treated patients in Massachusetts in 2020. His regular video conferences with her served as a diversion from his daily grind at the hospital.
Myron Rolle told USA TODAY’s Scooby Axson in May 2022 that his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital will end in 2024. Once that’s done, Rolle will enroll in a one-year fellowship geared toward pediatric neurosurgery.
Rolle’s penultimate goal is to provide medical care to underprivileged groups once he finishes his fellowship.
He’s currently serving as the chairman of the Myron L. Rolle Foundation, which Rolle and his family founded in 2009. Its mission is to support global philanthropic efforts focusing on children and needy families.
It’s been almost cathartic for me to write this book, put everything on paper, and be open and exposed while hopefully giving people the encouragement and the light to continue to move forward in their own personal journey. pic.twitter.com/JoglaZ80vA
— Myron Rolle, MD (@MyronRolle) July 2, 2022
Rolle wrote a book entitled The 2% Way: How A Philosophy of Small Improvements Took Me to Oxford, the NFL, and Neurosurgery. It hit bookstore shelves in the spring of 2022.
Rolle offered a unique perspective on life after football to BET Sports (via Florida State’s College of Medicine’s official website) in 2016.
“Whether it’s one play in the NFL or 1,000 plays in the NFL, your pads will come off eventually,” Rolle told Lelinwalla. “I’m hoping that players can see my story and say, ‘Look, I really need to focus on what’s going to happen to me after my career is done because I still want to be a contributor to this community.”
Long story short, Myron Rolle is one of those former pro football players who have gone above and beyond the call of duty long after they played their final down on the gridiron.
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