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Rookies receive clear message from top

By Vic Carucci

National Editor, NFL.com

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (June 27, 2005) -- The message couldn't have been more direct.

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Hundreds of NFL rookies sat in the main ballroom of the PGA National Conference Center. Staring at them from two giant television screens was Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, giving his video welcome for the league's annual Rookie Symposium.

"The National Football League stands for the best in sports," Tagliabue said. "This means that we are all held to very high standards. We expect you to do your best on and off the field. You need to focus on your personal responsibility 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

"It's important to think through every decision and make good choices."

And thus the tone for the symposium was set: Choices, decisions and consequences.

By the conclusion of the symposium on June 29, players will hear a series of cautionary tales from current and former NFL players. They will receive words of wisdom from Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy. They will receive advice on topics ranging from personal finance to substance abuse to HIV prevention.

The meetings start early in the morning and last late into the night, with little down time between sessions.

Although the setting is a luxurious resort hotel, the NFL makes it abundantly clear that this is not a vacation. And absorbing the helpful messages delivered by the various speakers is not considered an option.

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue drove home a message in his remarks to the rookies.

"How long you play in the NFL will depend on how well you conduct yourself," Tagliabue told the rookies. "NFL fans do not support players who make negative public spectacles of themselves. That includes players who do not honor their contracts or violate the law or do not adhere to our substance-abuse policies. If you engage in that type of negative conduct, you will suffer severe consequences.

"You may have watched or read about Congressional hearings concerning steroids, a topic that is receiving tremendous public scrutiny. Our steroids policy, the best in sports, is strict and very effective. We will catch players who try to cheat.

"That's what it's about: cheating. We are committed to making sure the playing field is level for all players in the league."

Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players Association, also made a video address to the rookies. He echoed Tagliabue's remarks.

"There are certain things that are expected of you as a player," Upshaw said. "You're not invisible. You're no longer the kid or the young man that was a star in college. You're now in the National Football League, which raises you to a different level. Everyone knows who you are, everyone will want to be your friend.

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"You have an obligation, not only to yourself and the team that you play for, but to the league itself. We expect good citizens, and character does matter in the National Football League. If you think something is wrong, it probably is."

Upshaw reminded the rookies of the support systems available to the players who do encounter problems off the field.

But he and Tagliabue emphasized that prevention is the best medicine of all.

"This symposium is designed to put you in the best position to meet the many challenges you will face in your NFL career," Tagliabue said. "We want you to be successful, and this week will give you a good road map for getting there. But it is up to you to stay on the road and succeed."

Right now this tough talk is a little hollow to me with so many player getting into trouble

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Rookies receive clear message from top

By Vic Carucci

National Editor, NFL.com

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (June 27, 2005) -- The message couldn't have been more direct.

Field Pass

Listen LIVE to NFL games, plus watch video news and features of your favorite team.

Hundreds of NFL rookies sat in the main ballroom of the PGA National Conference Center. Staring at them from two giant television screens was Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, giving his video welcome for the league's annual Rookie Symposium.

"The National Football League stands for the best in sports," Tagliabue said. "This means that we are all held to very high standards. We expect you to do your best on and off the field. You need to focus on your personal responsibility 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

"It's important to think through every decision and make good choices."

And thus the tone for the symposium was set: Choices, decisions and consequences.

By the conclusion of the symposium on June 29, players will hear a series of cautionary tales from current and former NFL players. They will receive words of wisdom from Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy. They will receive advice on topics ranging from personal finance to substance abuse to HIV prevention.

The meetings start early in the morning and last late into the night, with little down time between sessions.

Although the setting is a luxurious resort hotel, the NFL makes it abundantly clear that this is not a vacation. And absorbing the helpful messages delivered by the various speakers is not considered an option.

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue drove home a message in his remarks to the rookies.

"How long you play in the NFL will depend on how well you conduct yourself," Tagliabue told the rookies. "NFL fans do not support players who make negative public spectacles of themselves. That includes players who do not honor their contracts or violate the law or do not adhere to our substance-abuse policies. If you engage in that type of negative conduct, you will suffer severe consequences.

"You may have watched or read about Congressional hearings concerning steroids, a topic that is receiving tremendous public scrutiny. Our steroids policy, the best in sports, is strict and very effective. We will catch players who try to cheat.

"That's what it's about: cheating. We are committed to making sure the playing field is level for all players in the league."

Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players Association, also made a video address to the rookies. He echoed Tagliabue's remarks.

"There are certain things that are expected of you as a player," Upshaw said. "You're not invisible. You're no longer the kid or the young man that was a star in college. You're now in the National Football League, which raises you to a different level. Everyone knows who you are, everyone will want to be your friend.

Ask Vic!

Have a question for Vic on anything NFL related? Don't just sit there -- send it to AskVic@nfl.com, and the best questions will be answered throughout the season right here on NFL.com!

"You have an obligation, not only to yourself and the team that you play for, but to the league itself. We expect good citizens, and character does matter in the National Football League. If you think something is wrong, it probably is."

Upshaw reminded the rookies of the support systems available to the players who do encounter problems off the field.

But he and Tagliabue emphasized that prevention is the best medicine of all.

"This symposium is designed to put you in the best position to meet the many challenges you will face in your NFL career," Tagliabue said. "We want you to be successful, and this week will give you a good road map for getting there. But it is up to you to stay on the road and succeed."

Right now this tough talk is a little hollow to me with so many player getting into trouble

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My favorite seminar was the one where they tell the rookies how groupies will steal the used condoms from the hotel room and use the contents to impregnate themselves with what can only be described as a turkey baster, and then sue for child support. I always thought that would make a great after-school special. But it forever changed the way I eat turkey.

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My favorite seminar was the one where they tell the rookies how groupies will steal the used condoms from the hotel room and use the contents to impregnate themselves with what can only be described as a turkey baster, and then sue for child support. I always thought that would make a great after-school special. But it forever changed the way I eat turkey.

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