The NFL Rookie Symposium is underway in Palm Beach Gardens, FL and all 256 rookies (Yes, that's you RyanSuccop) arrived on Sunday for the event. While one player was being sent home early, the other 255 were getting a cram session on how to do things the right way in the NFL. Alex Marvez of FOX Sports reports that the event includes a series of group panel discussions with speakers such as Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, ex-Minnesota Vikings WR Cris Carter and Kansas City's own Len Dawson, including a session titled "Choices, Decisions and Consequences."
The NFL's Rookie Symposium has been in the news in recent years. Sometimes for good, sometimes for, well, not so good things.
- 2004 - The late Sean Taylor was fined for failing to attend the required event.
- 2006 - LenDale White asked this now infamous question to a former NFL player who was speaking to the rookies on homophobia.
- 2007 - Troy Smith asked Roger Goodell, "When and where is the positive stuff from you going to come out?"
- 2008 - Jared Allen spoke about his past issues with alcohol.
- 2008 - Two players, including Aqib Talib of the Tampa Bay Bucs, got into a fist fight.
After the jump we'll take a peek at the rookies' schedule, the role of player development and how it relates to the Chiefs.
All eight of the Kansas City Chiefs 2009 draft picks are in attendance for the annual Sunday-Wednesday event. According to some, the Chiefs rookies need the cram session because of the supposed "character issues" involved with many of them. According to others, the alleged "character issues' are a major stretch. Whichever you believe (the latter), the Chiefs rookie will be infused with 3 1/2 days of "Choices, Decisions and Consequences."
NFL Rookie Symposium Schedule
Sunday Night 6:30-10:00: Seminars with high ranking NFL officials and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith
Monday-Wednesday: Sessions run from 8:00AM-10:00PM every day.
Director of Player Development
One of the points Marvez highlights is the role of the Director of Player Development in each franchise. 27 of the NFL's 32 teams have a staffer whose sole duties include player development. Five teams have personnel folks that have other football related duties such as assistant coaches. The problem with this, which I've heard Marvez discuss on NFL Sirius Radio in the past, is that the idea behind the position is to act as a liaison between player and front office.
How can a player disclose personal concerns to the player development personnel when it might compromise his position on the field?
According to Christopher Henry (No, not that one), the NFL's Player Development Director, hiring personnel whose sole function is to aid in player development is the "best practice."
"The best practice is that the player development director is just a player development director and he or she does not have another job responsibility that can impact the ability to establish trust and the responsibilities of the position. I don't know if this is a trend, but I know the Commissioner is very serious about player discipline and other issues pertaining to player development. We are very aware of what we want and expect in terms of standards. We'll deal with issues as they arise."
Chiefs Player Development Staff
If this is the best practice, then the Kansas City Chiefs have done it right. According to the Mothership, the player development staff includes Executive Director Lamonte Winston and assistant Lisa Siebern.
A 16-year vet with the Chiefs, Winston was promoted to the role of Executive Director in 2006 after spending the nine previous years as Director of Player Development. According to his official bio, his job description includes serving as a "player liaison to front office personnel on both professional and personal issues." In fact, he comes from a family of player development with his brother Kevin serving as the Senior Director of Player Development with the Atlanta Falcons.
The previous regime placed much needed focus on off the field charitable activities. The rumor goes that former GM Carl Peterson placed a special clause in each player's contract that they must participate in five charitable activities ranging from attending a food bank to hosting a fundraiser.
Winston's role, and the focus of the NFL Rookie Symposium, is effectively promoting awareness of the folks with whom NFL players run around along with life after football. There's a reason players like Trent Green stick around in the community after their career is over and I believe much of that has to do with the role Winston and the Chiefs organization has in their lives during and after football.