Coronavirus: Former NFL safety Myron Rolle now plays defense against COVID-19

Coronavirus: Former NFL safety Myron Rolle now plays defense against COVID-19
Myron Rolle was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in 2010, but now he spends his time working at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Myron Rolle had a stellar career as a defensive back at Florida State University but never played a game in the NFL after being drafted by the Tennessee Titans. However, Rolle is still playing defense -- fighting the coronavirus pandemic while serving a neurosurgeon residency at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Rolle, 33, a former safety who is in his third year at the Boston hospital, has seen his work area transformed into a floor dedicated exclusively to treating COVID-19 patients, The Tennessean reported.

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When Massachusetts General set up a surge clinic that triages patients who come off the street with coronavirus symptoms, Rolle, a Rhodes Scholar who graduated from medical school at FSU, volunteered.

"Obviously, neurosurgery is not directly connected to this upper respiratory illness,” Rolle told The Tennessean. “But just like in football, if you’re called to do something different that you weren’t expecting, you adjust. You adapt. They’re showing us a new formation that we didn’t see on tape? You’ve got to hunker down and get the job done. In my opinion, this novel disease is something like that. A formation, a personnel package that we haven’t seen before. We have to meet the challenge, and I’m happy to be able to join the fight.”

Before pursuing a career in the NFL, Rolle was the top-rated high school football prospect in New Jersey. At FSU, Rolle earned ACC Rookie of the Year and freshman All-American honors, according to CBS Sports. After winning his appointment as a Rhodes Scholar, Rolle skipped his senior season with the Seminoles and earned a degree in medical anthropology at Oxford.

Rolle was selected by the Titans in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL draft and spent three years in the NFL -- two seasons in Tennessee and one in Pittsburgh --- before deciding to pursue his medical career, USA Today reported.

It’s not the first time Rolle has put himself on the front lines of a dangerous situation.

When Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas, Rolle, whose family hails from the islands, volunteered to go help.

“They were like, ‘Well, are you sure? It’s dangerous down there. Supplies aren’t great. There’s disease in the water,' " Rolle told The Tennessean. “I said, ‘None of that bothers me. I have to go down. I have to leave my residency and take care of my home country.'”

Rolle spent more than two weeks in the Bahamas, providing medical assistance as part of Massachusetts General’s disaster team.

“Didn’t look back,” Rolle told the newspaper. “Just went straight in, head down, just like an athlete, into the fight.”

Rolle has the same mentality about tackling the issues surrounding the coronavirus. He said the medical concerns are legitimate.

“The hype is real, and it’s not done for hysteria,” Rolle told The Tennesseean. “It’s not done to scare or to frighten anyone. It’s really done to make you aware that there are stories and cases here that will change lives, and would shock people, to the point where if this is your loved one, you’d say, Yeah, I want everyone to take this as serious as I’m taking it, because I’m seeing firsthand what’s happening. And the ideology that we have an important role to play. Social distance, physical distance, lifestyle modifications, staying home, doing everything you can to kind of flatten this curve — all of that is crucial.”