NFLPA to stage own rookie symposium
The NFL Players Association will stage a two-day educational program for rookies at the end of June and cover all costs.
One week after the league canceled its annual rookie symposium because of the owners' lockout of the players, the NFLPA has set up what it calls ''The Business of Football, Rookie Edition'' for Washington on June 28-29. Every drafted rookie - all 254 of them - is invited.
''We're doing this because it's the right thing to do,'' NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said.
The forum will cover financial education and planning, proper behavior on and off the field, and other information to prepare rookies for a future in the NFL.
Because of the lockout, those draftees can have no communication with the teams that selected them in April.
''Great idea and I'm all for it,'' agent Drew Rosenhaus said in an email to the AP. ''I'm glad the NFLPA stepped in & kept this concept going. It is important for these young men and now they won't miss out.''
The NFL canceled the rookie symposium because it could not commit to the number of people who needed to attend and lecture the rookies. It was scheduled for June 26 in Canton, Ohio.
At the owners' meetings in Indianapolis last week, NFL vice president Adolpho Birch said the league ''waited as long as we could.'' He called the rookie symposium ''an extremely complex event that requires a lot of people - from all of the drafted players to the panelists and presenters, production people and the youth camp that is associated with it. It is really a large production.
''We got to the point, based on the uncertainty we have right now, that we needed to be fair to those who would be asked to come and participate and help us put it on,'' Birch added. ''Given that, we had to make a decision. This was about as late as we could do it.''
Birch said it would be up to the individual teams to help indoctrinate the rookies to the NFL, and that league-sponsored programs during the season would continue once the lockout ends. The lockout is in its 11th week.
Agent David Canter thinks the NFLPA's forum makes sense.
''I'm very happy that the former union made this decision,'' said Canter, who counts Syracuse linebacker Doug Hogue, a fifth-round pick of the Lions, among his clients. ''The symposium is a great experience for all players. For this year's class, it's even more valuable because of the lack of information. And this will be the first time all of these players have been able to meet.''