Every year, all of the NFL rookies attend the NFL Rookie Symposium, an orientation to the world of professional football that, as NFL.com tells you, will make the NFL-ready from day one. Undrafted free agents are on their own. Per the NFL website, they focus on “the four principles of NFL History, Total Wellness, Experience and Professionalism.”
The program began in 1997, with the noble intent of turning future NFL stars into young men who could avoid the pitfalls of being a young, rich athlete who was also a detriment to himself and, on occasion, society, as highlighted in this article on NFL.com from 1997:
The symposium was created in 1997 as a vehicle to guide players through the murky waters of becoming even more celebrated athletes. The group was reminded via video by commissioner Roger Goodell that their inclusion in the league is a privilege, not a right. Goodell stated: “There are only 252 of you, and there are more than 10 million males your age in America who would love to trade places with you. Everyone in the NFL must take part in the integrity of the NFL.”
I think this symposium is a great idea, and the the Falcons’ rookies agree, as they share with you here, in discussions with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
I am confident there will be some really common sense advice that, if they listen to it, will help them become upstanding young men in a game that is sometimes, unfortunately, represented by the wrong me. There will be motivational speakers, financial guides, and all kinds of life coaches. I am sure they will be lots of money to these people. I would be happy to sum up most everything they say for, well, free. Here goes:
Dear Rookie of Class of 2014,
Welcome to the NFL. Please adhere to the following advice:
- Do not act like Johnny Manziel.
- Do not kill anyone.
- Do not hang around people who kill or might kill people.
- Only have physical relations with someone when it’s mutually agreed upon.
- Just avoid Twitter. If you must Tweet, hire, say, a second grade teacher and have her read everything before you post. She can edit for content and spelling and let you know if it would be inappropriate for her students to say such a thing.
- Limit your staff on payroll to two friends from high school. Additional friends, up to three, can be added with post undergraduate degree only.
- If your state does not allow unlicensed firearms, do not carry an unlicensed firearm.
- Seriously, don’t kill anyone.
- Listen to the coaches. They probably know more than you do. You may, in fact, be smarter in the end. But right, listen to the dude who’s been running the offense for the past seven years. He might know a thing or two more about it than you.
- Don’t be a horrible human and realize that most everyone you meet is, in fact, trying to take advantage of you.
The NFL is invested in its rookies, and in no doubt wants them not to be horrible people or TMZ fodder or convicted felons. It’s great that they try and give them the tools to succeed, but I hope that, at next year’s symposium, they just let me handle it.