COLUMN: He grew up in Galloway, played in the NFL and now treats the virus


Serious Cape-Atlantic League fans might remember Myron Rolle.

He grew up as an outstanding athlete in Galloway Township and went to St. Augustine Prep as a freshman. He played varsity football and basketball for The Prep that year before transferring to the Hun School in Princeton to complete his education.

He played football at the Hun School, played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and was ranked the No. 1 recruit in the nation by ESPN. Rolle chose Florida State where he was an All-American. He also was  awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and spent a year at Oxford University after graduating from college before considering the NFL.

The Tennessee Titans selected Rolle a year later in the sixth round and he signed a four-year contract. But, after less than three seasons, he left pro football and returned to Florida State to earn his medical degree. In 2017 he began at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School, as a neurosurgeon.

That is the back story. But these are complicated times and Dr. Rolle, 33, is now filling a different role. Like many other specialists, his medical skills are needed to fight the COVID-19 virus.

“When there’s something we weren’t prepared for on the football field, you have to be able to use your mind, be creative, communicate, get lined up and get ready to do the play, get ready to execute,” Rolle told the Boston Globe. “This is analogous to that. We are trained to be medical doctors first and if you have to put neurosurgery aside to deal with the most vulnerable and susceptible patients, then that’s what we’ll do.

“It could be seasonal allergies, it could be pneumonia, it could be the common cold, it could be flu, and so it takes tests and lab work and resources and scans to parse out if this is COVID-19 or if this is something else.”

Paul Rodio remembers Dr. Rolle very well. “He was very smart and very, very mature for a freshman. He and Anthony Farmer were both freshmen together and it was fun having them on the court together. I remember like it was yesterday both of them in my history class on September 11, 2001 when we were notified about the attacks. We all watched the news develop on TV. He was the kind of kid you knew was destined for special things.”

Mike Rizzo, St. Augustine’s athletics director, has similar memories. “Myron was incredibly athletic and intelligent beyond his years. He was also a very respectful person from a fine family. You just knew he was destined for greatness. He has already accomplished so much in his young life but you feel it is just the beginning. I hope God continues to bless him.”

Like everyone, Dr. Rolle’s life has changed. His skills are being used in a different way. But he understands the need.

“The sports world needs to place a high premium on the health of America,” Rolle told ESPN. “That includes the fans, the players and everyone involved. Make that the first priority. Place the convenience of getting back sports — we all love sports — but put the return of sports second.”

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