Myron Rolle was rated by the ESPN as the number 1 football recruit in the United States in 2006, but you might not remember that now.
That’s because he quit his professional football career to become a neurosurgeon. That’s right, he gave up the NFL to be a doctor. He also started his own nonprofit foundation and intends to keep setting the bar even higher.
When he graduated high school Rolle was the top football prospect in the country. At college in Tallahassee he was a First Team Freshman All-American, and in 2008 earned Third Team All-America and Second Team All-ACC.
Yet Rolle decided to postpone entering the NFL draft in order to study medicine for a year in Oxford, England.
As if Rolle’s achievements on and off the field weren’t impressive enough, he was also named a finalist for a Rhodes scholarship, which is the most prestigious academic award there is.
When he returned to the states Rolle joined the Tennessee Titans in the sixth round of the draft in 2010.
Rolle saw a noticeable improvement in his skills with head coach Jeff Fisher’s guidance.
“I thought I was making strides and getting better with each snap, picking up things I didn’t pick up before,” he said.
In 2011, Fisher left the team and the league faced a lockout. The Titans released Rolle before the start of the season. The Steelers signed him as a reserve the following offseason. Unfortunately for Rolle, the Steelers ended up releasing him near the end of the 2012 preseason.
At age 25, he had to decide what to do.
“I talked to my family, brothers and pastors asking them what they thought,” he said. “I still received interest from a few teams, and it didn’t have to be over. Then I said to myself, ‘I can knock my head against the wall for eight to nine years or move on to medicine.’ I was leaving the game with no concussions and dexterity in both my hands, where I could be a neurosurgeon one day.”
“I had a chance to play alongside some of the best athletes in the world,” he said. “Only two other people can say that they were a Rhodes Scholar and an NFL player (Pat Haden and Byron White). I look back and say, ‘I got to the league. I got drafted.’”
This spring, at age 30, Rolle will graduate with his doctorate from Florida State University’s College of Medicine.
The foundation hosts the Myron Rolle Wellness and Leadership Academy for Florida foster children, called “Rhodes to Success.” It’s an academic workshop for at-risk teenagers in Florida that’s been around for six years. There’s also the program “Our Way to Health,” which is an anti-obesity program for Native Americans from the Seminole Tribe of Florida, as well as Navajo, Hopi and Pueblo tribes.
Another initiative of the foundation is to develop a health services clinic and sports complex in Exuma, Bahamas. He also launched teen academic workshop in the Bahamas.
“It’s always, ‘What’s next?’” Rolle says. “I think people align themselves with my way of thinking when they’re talking to me. They try to create new avenues for me to pursue. ‘So if you want to be a doctor and you have interest in human rights and philanthropy and social equality of medicine and disease, why don’t you think about being surgeon general? Then you could have a political impact, with a stronger influence and a bigger platform.’ I’m that person. ‘What’s next? What’s next?’”