It got so bad that Rolando McClain had to do something to save himself. So he retired from the NFL, not once, but twice.

“I was feeling like Aaron Hernandez or something,” McClain told Seth Wickersham of, “like I just wanted to kill somebody.”

McClain, a middle linebacker at Alabama from 2007-09, quit football to help get his life in order. Now, after a year removed from the game, he’s back in the league with the Dallas Cowboys.

On Wednesday his former head coach at Alabama, Nick Saban, was asked about McClain’s return to the NFL, where he’s poised to start for the Cowboys this season at middle linebacker.

“Rolando McClain is one of my favorite people in the whole world. One of my favorite players in the whole world,” Saban said. “He actually came here, the first year we were here and had never won a game and didn’t have a very good team. He certainly became the alpha dog, leader of some really good teams and probably had a lot to do with the whole turning around the program and getting a lot of players to buy in and do a lot of the things the way we needed to do them so that we could be successful as a team.

“There was a lot of players that contributed to that, but Rolando McClain was one of the first and did it as well as anybody.”

After a falling out with the Oakland Raiders – who drafted him with the eighth overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft – leading to his release in April 2013, he signed with the Baltimore Ravens but retired one month later, following his third arrest since he turned pro. From there, he returned to Tuscaloosa to finish his degree and find peace in his life.

This past April, he retired for a second time from the Ravens, before joining the Cowboys through a trade in July.

“I’m excited about him having the opportunity to go back to play pro football, if that’s what he wanted to do and that’s what he chooses to do,” Saban said. “I wish him the very, very best in his career. Hopefully, he’ll do well in Dallas for Jason Garrett and the Cowboys. We’ll be excited to watch him play.”

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