The close of offseason workouts means the NFL has time to haul in the rookies for the annual rookie symposium. This is the annual series of meetings where rookies get to learn what not to do during the free time, while also hopefully preparing them for life in general in the NFL.
This year's symposium is being split in half, with NFC rookies going through the meetings today through Wednesday and NFC rookies going through the meetings Wednesday through Saturday. The symposium has been beefed up this year with a variety of guest speakers and smaller group workshops.
Some of this year's guest speakers include Michael Vick, Lavar Arrington and Aeneas Williams. I would argue the two most important speakers this year could be Terrell Owens and Adam "Pac Man" Jones. While Vick can provide some perspective on what not to do, I would argue guys like Pac Man and TO conceivably can bring more to the table. Michael Vick has found redemption and climbed back up the mountain. Jones and TO can bring a bit better perspective. TO in particular has the chance to provide some incredibly important life lessons to these young players.
Of course, this is not to say they will actually help these young players. They could do some good in these meetings, but owning up to one's problems and using yourself as an example of some things rookies should not do is not the easiest task. Given what we've seen with players struggling during and after they get out of the NFL, it is important to convey what the life is really like as an NFL player. Yes there are highs, but as we've seen throughout the history of the NFL, it's so easy to go from on top of the world to broke and desperate in no time.
The NFL and the NFLPA have pointed out the numerous programs they offer, but I often think they need to do more in opening players eyes. You can't force them to use what they learn in these types of events, but creating these events is a step in the right direction.
Official NFL Release
The NFL kicks off its 15th Rookie Symposium on Sunday (June 24), emphasizing the sport's legacy, tradition of character and leadership, as well as social and professional responsibility. The four-day orientation will be held at the Bertram Hotel in Aurora, Ohio and for the first time will feature speakers and a history session at the nearby Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.
Led by NFL Vice President of Player Engagement TROY VINCENT, the symposium will also introduce a new format to facilitate more effective learning by separating the rookies into smaller groups divided by conference.
"We have reduced the number of draftees simultaneously attending the symposium to create the most favorable learning environment," said Vincent, a five-time Pro Bowler and former NFL Players Association president. "Each rookie should leave the symposium with the knowledge and history of where our game began, where it is today, and challenged to make a positive personal impact on the future of our game. The NFL and its clubs are committed to providing players with the best resources to succeed both on and off the field."
The core teaching principles of the Rookie Symposium are NFL history, experience, player expectations, and professional and social responsibility. The program includes presentations, videos, and workshops focused on these principles as well as other topics, including player health and safety, decision making and maintaining positive relationships.
Guest speakers at the Rookie Symposium (June 24-27 for NFC, June 27-30 for AFC) include current and former players who have experienced a wide-range of success and challenges in their football careers and personal lives.
Participants include MICHAEL VICK (Philadelphia), ADAM JONES (Cincinnati), DEVIN MC COURTY (New England),TERRELL OWENS (free agent), LA VAR ARRINGTON (retired), LUTHER ELLISS (retired), JAMIE DUKES (retired),ANTONIO FREEMAN (retired) and AENEAS WILLIAMS (retired).
Pro Football Hall of Famers MICHAEL IRVIN and CARL ELLER will speak with the rookies at the sessions in Canton. Additional speakers include representatives from the NFL league office and clubs, the NFL Players Association, professionals in specialized fields, and current and former NFL players.
Panel discussion topics include "Transitioning to NFL," "Self Regulation," "Are You Bigger than the Game," "Staying in the Game," Expectations of an NFL Player," and "What Defines Success."
Each player will also participate in a PLAY 60 youth football clinic with children at the Cleveland Browns Training and Administrative complex (NFC rookies Tuesday at 9:30 AM; AFC Rookies Friday at 9:30 AM).