The NFL’s 15th Annual Common Sense Seminar

Everyone who hasn’t been living in a cave John Walker Lindh style for the past few months knows about the NFL lockout. But at the end of the day, the lockout isn’t going to get any more exciting (or boring, depending on how you look at it) until it ends. So, really, who cares about how many days the NFL has been locked out for. Contrary to popular belief (and what ESPN wants you to believe), there are other happenings in the world of the NFL besides the continuing lockout. Sway gives you his take on one of these events in a way only he can.

One of the less reported events in the NFL caught my eye this morning, that being the NFL Rookie Symposium. In the times of ancient Greece, a symposium was known as a drinking party for men to debate, chat, and plot strategies. Unfortunately for the incoming NFL Rookies, this year’s NFL symposium will be far from that ancient notion. The event, which kicked off this morning in Sarasota, Florida, will not include any drinking parties, and will have minimal time for chatting and “plotting strategies.” Players are not allowed to even leave the premises during the event and must abide by strict curfew rules.

The symposium, which the league requires all incoming rookies to attend, is a chance for the NFL to teach players how to best manage their newfound fortunes (unless your name is Tyrelle Pryor and you already have three cars), to resist temptations the come along with wealth, and most importantly, maintain a superior image for the multi-billion dollar entertainment business that is the NFL.

This is actually a fairly serious event, probably more serious than anything these players have (or have not) attended during their college careers. There are real penalties for fucking up now: failure to attend the conference comes along with fines up to $75,000 and missing only a single meeting can cost up to $25,000.

Some of the meetings include, but are not limited to Twitter usage, media relations, pregnancy, crime, drugs, steroids, and finances. These talks will probably not be lead by Arizona Cardinals Defensive Tackle, Darnell Dockett, who was recently pulled over and live Tweeted his interactions with the police when they tried to search his car. In all seriousness, these issues are very real to incoming players, most of them who have come from low income, impoverished families, and who will now be cast into the limelight as wealthy young athletes.

Finance is also an important part of the meetings. Although players may be signing million dollar contracts, they must learn to realize what that salary actually amounts to once they have taxes and an agent to pay, and a family to feed, house, and clothe. The league also warns players about the dangers of shady financial advisors, credit card abuse, and entrusting their money to a family member.

The moral of the story is this: ditch your “homeboys” and “groupies.” Don’t roll into club with ten of your “brothas” from your childhood, carry a loaded gun, and accidently pop yourself in the leg. Furthermore, be conscious about who you are trying to ‘poke’ in the club. Case and point: Antonio Cromartie, father of 9 children with 8 different women, who clearly feel asleep during the meeting on pregnancies. Don’t tweet like a moron, don’t make dumb comments to the media, do something you probably have never had to do off of the football field: use your head.

Though many players will probably doze off during some of the lectures, they should leave the conference with at least an idea in their heads that they are now professionals, representing themselves, their team, and the NFL. All of their actions are now evaluated with the highest level of scrutiny and there are consequences for unwise actions that bring unwanted attention to the league.

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