BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Financial responsibility, family, women, physical and mental health, social media, personal conduct, life after football.
Set aside the fame and fortune, glitz and glamor, they are the true realities that the NFL’s stars deal with day in and day out.
And all are being covered once again at the annual NFL Rookie Symposium being hosted this week in northeast Ohio. Current and former players speak in seminars about their own experiences – good and bad – to help the NFL’s newcomers prepare for life in the pros, on and off of the field, as well as when their playing days are over.
“There’s a lot of information they’re giving us,” Browns nose tackle Danny Shelton said. “The biggest thing is not being afraid to ask for help. It’s something that a lot of us are shy of because we’re rookies but it’s pretty encouraging being at this symposium and hearing the stories.
“A lot of guys come in and want to be macho, prideful. It takes a man to ask for help.”
By emphasizing first-hand experiences, the league hopes to continue to help it’s young players avoid some of the mistakes made by their predecessors. The AFC rookies, including all 12 of the Browns class, are going through this year’s program first with the NFC class starting Wednesday.
“You’re going to have to make the best decisions because you represent not only yourself, but your team, your family, where you come from,” Titans rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota said. “This rookie symposium gives us the information that we need to make better decisions.”
Former Browns receiver Donte Stallworth, who struck and killed Mario Reyes on a Miami, Florida bridge while driving drunk in March of 2009, spoke again this year. Just 11 months earlier Stallworth had just signed a $35 million free agent deal to come to Cleveland.
He ended up serving 30 days in jail and paying millions in a settlement to the victim’s family following his conviction for DUI manslaughter.
“It was really an eye opener,” Browns rookie offensive lineman Cameron Erving said of Stallworth’s speech. “It makes you realize life’s too short to cut it short by doing something that’s easy to fix – don’t drive drunk.”
Social media can be just as dangerous as socializing. One tweet or Instagram post can not just be embarrassing but lead to trouble, which is why Mariota just stays away from it and doesn’t even own or operate accounts.
“I like to keep my personal life private,” Mariota said. “I think social media provides an opportunity for people to get an insight into what you’re doing and for me, I like to keep stuff private.”
Tuesday’s lesson was community service as the AFC class worked a football camp for local youth at a Play 60 event held once again at the Browns training and administrative complex in Berea.
It was a bit of a homecoming for Jets receiver Devin Smith, who got to entertain kids that watched him star at Ohio State and wishes he would have landed closer to home in the NFL.
“A lot of these kids look up to us that’s been drafted and for me being an hour from here, being from Akron, Ohio a lot of these kids know who I am,” Smith said. “They all say they wish I was a Brown but it’s fun because you see these kids they have fun and they just enjoy being around us.”