Last week, 252 rookies congregated in San Diego for the NFL Rookie Symposium to hear speakers like Jerry Rice and Minnesota's Jared Allen talk about the challenges players will face on and off the field.
Allen, a fourth-round pick out of Idaho State in 2004, has become one of the best and highest-paid defensive ends in the league but his multiple DUI arrests almost jeopardized his career. Allen wanted to speak the rookies so they could learn from his mistakes.
"Jared Allen talked to us about the adversity we will face as rookies," quarterback Alex Brink said. "He talked about all he went through off the field, and it was really interesting to get his perspective on the adversity you face as a rookie. It's good for us to hear those stories."
The four-day conference including meetings on finances, continuing education, substance abuse, sex education and the league's conduct policy. Former NFL player and current TV analyst Merril Hoge moderated a panel of players who finished their rookie season in 2007. The group included Kevin Boss of the New York Giants, Ed Johnson of the Indianapolis Colts, Tank Tyler of the Kansas City Chiefs and Jared Gaither of the Baltimore Ravens.
Tyler warned the rookies of people that come out of the woodwork to ask for money and told the players to be careful when choosing their circle of friends.
For Brink, the best part of the symposium was breaking into small groups after the large auditorium meetings. He said he got a chance to get to know players like Rams' defensive end Chris Long, son of Howie Long.
"The small group breakout sessions were the best part because we could talk about what the panel discussions and get to know other guys on other teams," Brink said. "And you get to see guys you played against in college or on all-star games."