Rolondo McClain: A man in need of a fully developed prefrontal cortex

A map of places where Rolondo McClain shouldn't be allowed to live...or go

A map of places where Rolondo McClain shouldn’t be allowed to live…or go

With news of Sunday’s arrest of former Alabama and current Baltimore Raven’s linebacker Rolondo McClain, the former All-American and Butkus and Lambert award winner faces an uncertain future.

McCLain was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest over an incident that allegedly took place in a Decatur, Alabama area sports park. According to sources, the fight broke out following someone spitting on McClain’s car, although details on whether or not McClain was involved in the fight are uncertain.

What is certain is that McClain was uncooperative with police who were called to manage the disturbance. Rolondo was released from jail after posting the $1,000 bond.

McClain was drafted in the 2010 NFL draft, selected as the 8th overall pick in the first round by Oakland. After three years with the organization, 244 tackles and 6.5 sacks, Ro was released in April of this year, and picked up five days later by the Baltimore Ravens. McClain signed a one-year deal with the Ravens on April 10th.

Mclain was arrested just two years ago, again when he came home to attend a family funeral. He was convicted of four misdemeanors (reckless endangerment, menacing, third-degree assault and firing a gun in the city limits) but he appealed. The charges were eventually dropped when the accuser told prosecutors he no longer wanted to pursue the case.

Rolondo McClain following his November 2011 arrest…a picture so surreal it looks like it belongs on “The Onion”

But as the late Paul Harvey would say, here’s the rest of the story.

McClain, now 23, has been virtually on his own since the age of 15. Growing up in the projects of Decatur, McClain received a restraining order against his mother for beating him and threatening him with a knife. She later would be diagnosed as bi-polar. McClain would then spurn an estranged father to live with several families in order to stay eligible for football in Decatur, and of course would later be recruited and signed by Alabama.

But according to a source who knew and worked with him while in high school, this is a guy who had slim to no chance of overcoming his troubled past.

McClain’s story isn’t unique to Rolondo McClain. I don’t pity him, as the 23 year old has already received…and earned…more opportunity than most ever will in their lives. He has been placed in a realm where he could and should have known better than to do the things that have gotten him in trouble.

But this is a man who apparently just can’t escape it. As one of my favorite Proverbs says: “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” (Proverbs 26:11)

When you take family structure away from a kid growing up, regardless of how successful or talented he is, the odds of him overcoming his poor upbringing aren’t good. The odds are much greater of him repeating what he knows, not overcoming it and moving on.

At 23, Rolondo is still just a kid by many rights…though not according to the legal system. I remember when I was 23, and am thankful I escaped my own stupidity until my frontal lobe was finally fully developed.

Research tells us that the human brain, specifically the prefrontal cortex, or the “frontal lobe,” isn’t fully developed until the age of 25. Here’s a list of what that part of the brain does:

• Focuses attention
• Organizes thoughts and problem solving
• Foresees and weighs possible consequences of behavior
• Considers the future and makes predictions
• Forms strategies and planning
• Balances short-term rewards with long term goals
• Shifts/adjusts behavior when situations change
• Controls impulses and delays gratification
• Modulates of intense emotions
• Inhibits inappropriate behavior and initiates appropriate behavior
• Simultaneously considers multiple streams of information when faced with complex and challenging information

This is why teenagers do stupid things…almost single-handedly keeping YouTube and Girls Gone Wild in business.

But does any of that list sound like issues Rolondo McClain is in dire need of help with? I remember in human development classes at Alabama learning that our personalities as humans really aren’t solidified until the age of 26. The development of this part of the brain is a major reason as to why.

People with an underdeveloped frontal lobe think it’s a good idea to fire weapons in public. They like their odds of resisting a police officer who’s ordering you to stop walking away. They forget that said police officer has a radio who can summon a bijillion other police officers, severely hampering your day…and an NFL career.

Who knows what will become of Rolondo McClain. The former Bama great isn’t the first NFL player to find himself on the wrong side of the law. Another Baltimore Ravens linebacker just ended an extremely successful career with some shady legal issues in his review mirror. And afterall, McClain is still innocent until proven guilty.

But one thing is for certain: Rolondo McClain should probably leave Decatur and never return again. At least until he’s 26. Or much older.

(Follow ITK on Twitter for Bama news, commentary and smack.)