By Eric Schmidt

The NFL opened their annual Rookie Symposium on Monday in Aurora, Ohio, but are the newest players in the league listening to the message they are being told? It’s a major transition for young players to make the jump from college life to playing in the NFL. The fact that they have been drafted is the culmination of these players dreams. Not all of the players in attendance will land on a final 53-man NFL roster, but for the ones who do, life will change dramatically.

The NFL has long sought an appropriate venue in order to prepare these young men for what they are about to face. Troy Vincent, the Vice President of Player Engagement told reporters that the Symposium is “the most comprehensive employee orientation in the world.”

The league changed up the format of the Symposium this season. Rookies are broken into two separate groups, defined by the respective conferences which drafted the players, AFC and NFC. The event is being held in Aurora, Ohio for the first time as the league is trying to convey the history of the game to the new players with a trip to the Pro Football Hall of Fame included in the format. Players are told about life in the NFL, how to deal with peer pressure, money management and what is expected of them at the next level.

Current and former players address the rookie. Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick and Cincinnati Bengals CB Pacman Jones have addressed the rookies, trying to convey their story and hoping that the league’s newest players will learn from their past mistakes. Vick’s address to the crowd was titled, are you bigger than the game? He explained to the first-year players, if you don’t appreciate what God gave you in order to play the game of football, he will take it away. But are any of the players listening to the message?

Fame and fortune are thrust upon these young men, and it will be up to them now to see how responsible they can be. NFL teams are hoping that the rookies aren’t sitting in the audience, listening to the speakers and saying to themselves,’That won’t happen to me.” Just ask the Detroit Lions, a team which just saw their fourth player this offseason get arrested.







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