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Rookies take in symposium

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Amobi Okoye is just one of many Texans rookies who are in Florida this week.

Houston's 2007 draft class is spending the week at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. They're not there hitting the links however, the group is there for the annual NFL rookie symposium.

Players arrived Sunday afternoon and have a jam-packed schedule until the group returns to Houston on Wednesday. Several topics are covered at the annual gathering, but this year's keynote speaker is NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

In a session that lasted about 20 minutes Monday, Goodell outlined his expectations for player conduct and then answered questions. Amobi Okoye said that the commissioner was straight forward with his message.

"He pretty much just let us know the direction he's trying to go and the direction of the whole league," Okoye said. "He said that some people think that he's trying to weed people out, but that's not his goal. He's just trying to keep our fan base and protect the shield."

The "shield" is the NFL logo, or perhaps in this case, the NFL brand. It's been a somewhat controversial offseason for the NFL. Tank Johnson's release from the Bears Monday only amplifies the heightened expectations that the league and its teams have for their players.

It's for that reason that Okoye believes the players paid extra attention to the commissioner Monday.

"Definitely, everybody was attentive," Okoye said. "It's hard to be attentive, though, with the way the schedule is. It's meeting after meeting after meeting. But for that, it wasn't hard at all."

The commissioner also had Fred Bennett's ear Monday. The rookie cover man said he thinks the league is taking the right steps to ensure the NFL remains at the top of the sports landscape.

"I think he's doing a good job," Bennett said of Goodell. "He explained to us what he's trying to do. Rookies are going to have a lot thrown at them and he explained what the league expects from us, just to let us know to be more comfortable and be aware of the lifestyle that we're in."

{QUOTE} Bennett is among those people tired of a handful of players ruining the reputation of the majority and who have welcomed the commissioner's strict stance on player conduct.

While that message hit home with the players, there were two other presentations that have stuck in the players' minds.

"You know what, really all of them are helpful," Okoye said. "But especially when the rookies from last year spoke and we asked questions, that was really beneficial, but the financial stuff was really beneficial, too."

Brandon Frye agreed and said that it was easy to take advice from players who he could relate to easily.

"The first night we got here we heard from the rookies from last year and that was probably the most beneficial because just hearing it from someone that's been there and so recently was really helpful," Frye said. "Those are people we can relate to a little bit more than anyone else that's spoken to us."

Frye also took careful mental notes during presentations on money matters.

"From the financial standpoint, I wasn't aware of how they try to take care of players after they're done playing," Frye said. "That's the main thing. That's big for some of these guys that are not going to play very long. They show you how to take that money that you've earned and make the most of it."

Bennett said he didn't head to the event witih any specific questions and was just there to learn. Like Frye, he picked up a lot from the presentations on finances.

"They went over a lot of different things, different aspects of this lifestyle," Bennett said. "They're just making sure that since we're young that we're aware of our finances."

One thing is for sure, they won't be spending any of their new-found wealth this week. If you think that these guys might be sneaking out for a quick nine between meetings, think again.

"Not at all, this is lock down down here," Okoye said. "We're just here to get educated to the NFL and how we should conduct ourselves as professionals."

That education continues Wednesday before the players head back to Houston to continue their preparations for training camp.

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