The NFL has canceled next month’s rookie symposium, the first league event called off because of the lockout.
League spokesman Greg Aiello said Tuesday the decision was made because of ”the uncertainty of the labor issues we are facing and the logistical challenges of conducting the symposium.”
”The symposium is a large, complex event involving many professionals and others,” he added. ”In fairness, we could not continue to keep their commitment on hold.”
The symposium, which was to begin in Canton, Ohio, on June 26, instructs rookies in money management and life skills and allows them to meet current and former players.
NFL senior vice president Adolpho Birch talked about the cancellation Tuesday at a press briefing at the NFL owners meeting in Indianapolis.
"We had gotten to the point based on the uncertainty we have in labor right now that we needed to be fair to those who would be asked to come and participate and help us put it on,” he said.
Teams and their draftees have not been allowed to communicate since the NFL gained a stay in court upholding the lockout. The league’s appeal of an injunction lifting it will be heard in U.S. District Court beginning June 3.
”Obviously I’m disappointed because I think the symposium is a valuable learning and bonding experience,” player agent David Canter said. One of his clients, linebacker Doug Hogue, was drafted by Detroit.
”Canceling the symposium is part of the issue related to the inability of the owners to put forth a deal that can get done in time so we can get back to football and the business of football,” Canter said. ”It’s all very upsetting and sad for all parties involved.”
Individual teams now must pick up the slack in their own rookie orientation programs, Birch said.
“It’s going to be incumbent upon teams to do more. The league will also try to assist the clubs in formulating alternatives," he said. "We have a number of different ways that we try to teach the information and provide that type of content. We’re going to try and figure out ways to try and work through this the best we can.
“It’s unfortunate. We think the rookie symposium is an outstanding event, but it is an unfortunate casualty of where we are right now (in the labor impasse).”
Agent Ben Dogra, who along with partner Tom Condon represents five first-round draft choices this year, didn’t expect the symposium to take place.
”The truth is, how can you cancel an event that isn’t supposed to happen anyway since there is a lockout,” Dogra said. ”The NFL is closed for business. Thus, to hold a rookie symposium wouldn’t make any logical sense.”
FOXSports.com Senior NFL Reporter Alex Marvez contributed to this report.