With the Rams’ OTAS quickly coming to an end, the team’s 11 drafted rookies are already preparing for their next assignment – and a potentially life-changing experience at that.
Beginning Sunday in Aurora, Ohio, the NFL will hold its annual rookie symposium, which is open to all members of the 2014 draft class. Players are split up by conference, with the NFC leading off from June 22-25. The AFC side then gets in on the action June 25-28.
According to the NFL Communications department, “The four core teaching principles of the Rookie Symposium are NFL History, Total Wellness, Professional Experience and Workplace Conduct. The symposium includes presentations, videos, and workshops on player health and safety, decision making, mental health, substance abuse, workplace respect and maintaining positive relationships.”These four-day sessions will focus on the league’s tradition and legacy, not to mention leadership and character. Other important topics include the rise of social media and how to navigate the pitfalls that can accompany being a professional athlete.
Some of the presentations consist of role-playing scenarios, as many current and former players share personal experiences and cautionary tales. The featured speakers will have undoubtedly encountered a wide range of successes and challenges both on and off the field. In turn, they are able to communicate the gravity of having to deal with complications such as guns, drugs and addiction, night life, and assorted brushes with the law head-on.
Those scheduled to present for this year’s event include former NFL standouts La Var Arrington, Cris Carter, Garry Cobb, Donovin Darius, Warrick Dunn, Keith Elias, Luther Elliss, Eddie George, Mike Haynes, Terry “Tank” Johnson, Warren Sapp and J.R. Tolver, as well as a host of current players.
For many of the league’s newest additions, their respective journeys began at the Pop Warner level. They proceeded to grind through high school and college careers to reach this point. Former Ram and Cardinal defensive back Aeneas Williams, who is set to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August, will also conduct a history session in Canton to let them know what continued hard work could produce down the line.
It’s all part of the NFL’s efforts to supply rookies with a multitude of resources, support and guidance as they enter the next phase. The building blocks are clearly established so that these special players may discover their own astounding potential.