Safety First: The Story of Myron Rolle
As a senior in high school Rolle was ESPN’s #1 ranked football recruit. After an impressive career as a four year starting safety for the Florida state Seminoles, Rolle decided to take a year off from football to study at Oxford University. That was surely a reason why his draft stock dropped and he was selected in the 6th round by the Tennessee Titans. He never found the NFL success that his All-Pro cousins Antrel and Samari Rolle attained. However, Rolle is no stranger to success, earning a perfect 4.0 GPA and becoming a Rhodes scholar. Rolle always dreamed of being a Doctor as well as a professional Football player. He decided to pursue his medical dreams when he retired from the NFL in 2013 after a three year career with the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers. He graduated Florida State University College of Medicine in May of 2017 and matched a neurosurgery residency at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
Like most of us COVID-19 has turned things upside down and for Rolle, 33, it’s no different.
“Obviously, neurosurgery is not directly connected to this respiratory illness” Rolle told Erik Bacharach of 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.”
Rolle spent this past weekend working a 24-hour shift on Friday and another on Sunday. Sleepless and speaking by phone Saturday morning he describes entire floors efficiently transformed into Coronavirus units amid vigilante efforts to protect staff from infection due to a severe shortage of PPE (personel protective equipment). His floor has been turned in a COVID-19 ward and he is now volunteering in a surge clinic, triaging patients off of the street with symptoms of the virus. He is also pitching in on any floor of the hospital that is overwhelmed.
“I’m capable of covering an ICU or the emergency department if necessary,” he says.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft swooped in to help with the crisis in the form of a much needed shipment of 1.2 million medical masks, which the team jet had to venture all the way to China to get.
But in the meantime, more than 1,000 employees at Massachusetts hospitals have tested positive for the virus, including more than 200 at Mass General, the majority of them in the past week.
“It’s like having to tackle a 240-pound running back without any shoulder pads or helmet,” Rolle says. “Not having the right equipment to take care of patients and do your job as a professional, that can stymie your confidence.”
“The hype is real, and it’s not done for hysteria,” Rolle told Bacharach. “It’s not done to scare or 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 the 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.”
We should heed the words of Rolle when he says to “Play our role.”
In these difficult times where hardships and loss are almost normal. Everyday heroes such as Rolle are a light in the darkness, selflessly battling this virus on the frontlines without hesitation. When asked if he was aware of the infection number of medical professionals in Massachusetts he calmly replied, “Mhmmmm Hmmmmm.”
This footballer turned Doctor is a true Rolle model. Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself!
Stay strong and as always, stay true.