OXNARD, Calif. — Rolando McClain’s path back to the NFL has in recent days taken him through a courtroom in Alabama, a walkthrough in Oxnard and a phone call from Turkey courtesy of a traveling Jerry Jones.
"He called me from Turkey and I figured that had to be an expensive phone call," said McClain on Saturday morning after his initial workout with his new club. "It was pretty serious with me from that point."
McClain has a brilliant football pedigree (he was an All-America for the 2009 Alabama national champs and the Raiders’ first-round pick that next spring) but some troubled times during his professional career. McClain was in his hometown of Decatur, Ala. on Thursday to attend a court date and was found guilty of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct from an incident that occurred in April 2013. He is appealing his 18-day jail sentence. He’s also retired twice in his brief NFL career.
"I had to get a foundation, a structure of what I wanted to do as a father," said McClain, who has two young sons. "That was the most important thing, the family structure."
The Cowboys – who sent a 2015 seventh-round draft pick in exchange for a 2015 sixth-round choice for Baltimore for his rights in conjunction with Jones’ invitation to him to un-retire – are impressed with the physical condition of McClain, 25, though the 6-4, 260-pounder hasn’t played in a game since 2012. With Sean Lee out for the year, Dallas can give him the chance to live up to what he calls his "God-given gifts" as a candidate to start at middle linebacker.
"When you’re away from the game, you realize how much you miss it," McClain said. "It’s a great opportunity. You don’t get this many chances in the NFL. I’m going to try to make this team and be the best I can be."