On Thursday, Raiders middle linebacker Rolando McClain went to court to find out his fate on several criminal charges stemming from an incident late last year in his hometown of Decatur Alabama. The charges were assault, reckless endangerment, unlawful discharging a firearm of a firearm in city limits, and menacing. In these matters, the judgment was swift-- he was found guilty on all accounts.
Each count carried with it 45 days in jail totaling a prison sentence of 180 days. Immediately following the judgment and sentence, McClain's lawyer requested a trial by jury which essentially starts the entire process over again.
The Raiders, in the meantime, have released a statement on the matter:
"The Raiders are well aware of the proceedings in the Alabama courts today. The team will continue to closely monitor the legal process, understanding that when appropriate the NFL will review the situation under its personal conduct policy."
If McClain were to serve his entire 180 day sentence, he would be out of prison in mid-November. He would be released halfway through the season and most likely have a league suspension waiting for him that would have him missing the rest of the 2012 season.
With the trial by jury request, there is no telling how long this will drag out. NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, will not wait for the trial result before he hands down his suspension. If McClain's case is still pending, he will very likely suspend him preemptively. The suspension is expected to be between eight games and an entire season.
Once his sentence and/or suspension is up, McClain wouldn't simply suit up and take the field either. The Raiders have instituted a new, complicated defensive scheme that he won't be able just jump into.
This means that whether or not McClain serves his entire 180 days in prison or is this guilty verdict is eventually overturned by a jury, he will most likely be out of football for all of 2012 anyway.
New head coach Dennis Allen had said that he thinks McClain is very talented and had hoped to see if he could put it all together on the field. He will now not get that chance. At least not any time soon.
The Raiders can't just sit around and wait for McClain to come back. They may not even want him back. They will need to either convert one of their current linebackers to middle linebacker or begin searching for McClain's replacement in free agency or via trade.
The draft picks this team had this year all had one thing in common-- they were high character guys. That is a heavy emphasis of the new regime in Oakland and Rolando McClain does not jibe with that ideal.
Even in a football sense, if McClain had shown himself to be a great player who is worth a team's effort in waiting for his return, this would be another story. But he has been a mediocre player on the field, a complete non-leader in the locker room, and a complacent enigma in the public eye. He just isn't worth all the bother.
The Raiders will realize once he is gone and they have to find a replacement that they really don't need McClain and his baggage and immaturity. That is, of course, if they don't simply decide to cut him well before any of that.
Reggie McKenzie was an NFL linebacker himself and as part of the Packers front office for 18 seasons, was responsible for bringing in many fine linebackers into that team. McClain's play, demeanor, and off-field antics fly in the face of the position McKenzie, as well as defensive coordinator Jason Tarver-- a former linebackers coach--, hold in the highest regard.
McClain will either serve time or at very least a long court battle as well as a long suspension. If he comes out of it with an improved perspective, great. He can take that perspective to a prospective team. But that team won't be the Raiders.