With most NFL players getting in that final round of golf or catching those last rays at some posh resort before the start of training camp, the league's newest crop of stars is finishing up four days worth of important education. This year's class of 262 drafted newcomers will complete the NFL's seventh annual rookie symposium today in West Palm Beach, Fla.
All rookies are required to attend the meetings, which are designed to give the youngsters the groundwork for what they'll be facing in the upcoming season. Included in the symposium were seminars dealing with the handling of finances, media relations, handling the increased spotlight that comes with NFL fame and what to expect when camps open up around the league in a couple of weeks.
Last year, Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour addressed the group as a second-year player fresh off all these new experiences, including, in his case, a Super Bowl title. This year, Denver Broncos running back Clinton Portis handled those duties, along with former Pittsburgh Steelers running back and current ESPN NFL analyst Merril Hoge and former Patriots Hall of Fame cornerback and current NFL vice president of player and employee development Mike Haynes.
Haynes is also involved in the league's Continuing Education Program, which encourages players to earn their degrees, even during their playing days. More than 170 players have received their college degrees in the past five seasons, including stars like Green Bay's Ahman Green and Seattle's Shawn Springs this past offseason.