Since the 2003 Superbowl blunder where the Oakland Raiders lost 49-21 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the franchise has been on the decline. The Raiders haven’t had a winning season since 2003, and they have had various incidents of drama surrounding the franchise. In 2011, the Raiders finally had a decent offense and defense, and were predicted to make a tough fight to win the AFC West division. The Raiders, under the new direction of head coach Hugh Jackson and his creative offensive formations, had all the right pieces in motion. The franchise had a good start to the 2011 season, but in October 2011, long-time Raiders owner Al Davis died after complications from surgery. Davis was the face of the Raiders, but he was also a pioneer in the development of the NFL.
His death was a major blow to the organization, and high level of emotion could be felt throughout the entire season. Besides the death of Al Davis, the Raiders lost quarterback Jason Campbell to a season-ending injury, which led to the blockbuster trade for quarterback Carson Palmer, who was retired at the time. Palmer came into the season without learning the playbook, and he was very rusty. After a series of setbacks and tough loses, the Raiders ended the season at 8-8. The locker room was divided, and Hugh Jackson, in only his first year, lost his players passion and motivation. During the 2011 season, linebacker Rolando McClain was arrested on assault and weapons charges.
McClain had gone back to his hometown of Decatur, Alabama on personal family matters, and at the time he was also nursing an injury. On November 30th, McClain had a physical altercation with a man named Rishard Tapscott. Nobody knows the relationship between both men, and the motivation behind the fight. From the accounts from the police reports, McClain had held a gun to Tapscott’s head, while Tapscott begged him not to pull the trigger. McClain fired a shot next to Tapscott’s ear during the altercation.
On Thursday, May 18th, Rolando McClain was charged with third-degree assault, discharging a firearm in city limits, and reckless endangerment. McClain was also fined $2,000. McClain is sentenced to 180 days in jail, and he and his legal team will appeal the sentencing, but many say that it will not be promising that his sentence will be overturned. McClain, who is only 22 years-old, had just finished his second NFL season. McClain was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the 2010 NFL Draft as the 8th pick in the first round. He was a huge all-star at the University of Alabama.
McClain signed a five-year $40 million deal with the Raiders. The deal also included more than $20 million in guaranteed money. McClain was drafted to reshape the team’s linebacking core. In his two year professional career, he has shown tremendous potential, but he has also been disappointing to watch. McClain’s performance declined in 2011, not playing up to par as a first round draft pick. He had 99 tackles and 5 sacks during this past season.
The future looks very bleak and uncertain for Rolando McClain. He was a very promising linebacker with a promising professional career ahead of him. With this recent incident, Raiders newly appointed General Manager Reggie McKenzie, and new head coach Dennis Allen will have to make a critical decision about McClain, who will miss the 2012 NFL season due to his 180 day jail sentencing. The best course of action for the Raiders is to release McClain, and to replace his position. McClain in 2011 underperformed his contract, and was not looking like the first round draft pick that he once was.
He is troubled and he has unsettled drama off the football field. The Raiders do not need players that will cause distraction in the locker room, especially during a time of rebuilding, and first year of a new coaching regime. McClain will play football again, but with a different team, after his jail sentence is done. For now, he must play by the rules, and have good behavior, if he wants to come back to the NFL.