The ever cagey and evasive Rolando McClain was his usual self following Raiders scrimmage with the Cowboys today. But unlike his time with the Raiders, the Cowboys don't allow him to just choose to talk whenever he feels like it. So, we caught up with him today. Here is some of what he had to say.
With his busting out of Oakland and later retiring and being out of football for a full season, naturally the questions surrounding McClain are about whether he really has a passion to play football. He is tired of hearing about it by this point.
"I had personal reasons I had to take care of to walk away from the game. I don't care what anybody else thinks. I did what's right for me and my family most importantly... I got myself better. I'm back in football and I'm glad to be a Cowboy."
When asks directly if he loved football he wouldn't give a direct response, saying:
"I love life. . . I love life. Football is a part of my life, so I love life."
Asked if it was strange facing his former team and if he spoke to his former head coach, Dennis Allen, of whom his blow-up in practice ultimately led to the end of his Raiders career:
"It actually felt good. I know so many of them. We shook hands, we said 'Hi', we had smiles. It was fun. Just like practicing with them in Oakland you say ‘Hey' and then go play. Once the whistle blows you're all focused."
"Me and DA said 'what up'. [Jason Tarver] and I, we just walked off together. It was two years ago, 2.5 years ago. It's all in the past. I wish them nothing but the best."
McClain was much thinner than he was during his time in Oakland. He was asked how much weight he had lost and three straight times, to three different questions, he answered "I lost a little bit."
I asked him if he lost weight because he is playing inside linebacker in the Cowboys' 3-4 as opposed to middle linebacker in the Raiders' 4-3.
"Middle linebacker, inside linebacker, it's the same thing. It aint no different. I stayed at home for two years. I got a three-year-old and a two-year-old. So, I was chasing them around. I lost a little weight, stayed at that weight. So, whatever."
He was asked whether he was in football shape and his answer was very strange, suggesting a bit of a misunderstanding of how to properly prepare for NFL football (Hint: It isn't chasing around toddlers).
"You ain't ever in football shape. Any football player will tell you that. You never know. Being in football shape is being able to train your mind to tell yourself you're not tired. That's football shape. It has nothing to do with wind sprints or anything like that. Football shape is being able to fight through adversity and go from one play to the next. You never know what football shape is until you go in the games. You think a five play drive is in shape and then you play the Broncos and you have a 10-play drive and you're like, hey, maybe I'm not in shape. The game depends on what shape you need to be in."
McClain has been nursing a knee injury and was limited some in the past two days versus his former mates. For the most part, there were no incidents from him and all the major scrums involved other players.
He ended the interview after one last question about whether he thinks much about his time in Oakland, and you can tell he has been asked about that very thing from every possible angle since he returned to football last month.
"I'm not gonna answer too many more questions about Oakland. I don't know what the relationship is. I had three years there, it is what it is, I made some great relationships, I still have those relationships, and I'm proud of it. That's what you do. You live and learn. I wish them nothing but the best."