Monday, June 28, 2010
Symposium prepares rookies for future
CARLSBAD, Calif. -- From No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford all the way down to Mr. Irrelevant himself, Tim Toone, the 2010 draft class is starting to get acclimated to life in the NFL.
There's no hitting at the league's annual four-day rookie symposium at La Costa, not even time for hitting golf balls on La Costa's famous golf courses.
The 252 draft picks -- three have been excused for medical reasons -- have come together at the posh resort to prepare for the challenges ahead. Topics include personal finance, personal conduct and things a lot of players might not have thought about, such as how expensive it can get buying tickets for all their friends and family members who want to go to games.
The rookies took a break on Monday to host a barbecue for 150 children of Marines stationed at nearby Camp Pendleton.
One of the Marines escorting the children, Chief Warrant Officer Patrick Miller, a St. Louis native, was wearing a replica Bradford No. 8 Rams jersey.
"I saw that. It's pretty cool," Bradford said.
"We've been kind of locked up in meetings since we got here. To get out here and get to be with the kids, that's what it's all about," the quarterback said. "I know that if I were their age and I was out here and there were 250 NFL players, I would probably be pretty pumped up, so I can only imagine how these kids feel today."
Running back Ryan Mathews, the No. 12 overall pick who will replace LaDainian Tomlinson with the San Diego Chargers, agreed.
"I'd be going crazy. I'd be running around trying to touch everybody. I'd probably have a football in my hand trying to throw at everybody. It's crazy," Mathews said.
While many of the players are big names, Toone is notable for being the last player drafted, by the Detroit Lions, thus the tag of Mr. Irrelevant.
The diminutive wide receiver from Weber State is distinguishable by the dreadlocks flowing out from under his Lions visor.
Asked if he'd had a chance to meet Bradford, who went 254 picks ahead of him, Toone said: "I don't think he knows who I am."
Toone will be feted later this week during Irrelevant Week in Newport Beach. He'll receive the Lowsman Trophy, the opposite of the Heisman Trophy, which Bradford won in 2008 while at Oklahoma.
Toone won't be getting the staggering signing bonuses that top picks get.
"You have to be careful and you need to learn how to say no," Toone said. "A lot of us aren't going to be like wealthy and rich and we still have to plan the rest of our lives. I can't play football forever, so you have to be responsible and be grown up and professional about everything you do."
One of the big topics in the NFL right now is the possibility of a lockout in 2011 if management and the players' union can't come up with a new collective bargaining agreement.
Most of the rookies, though, are more worried about making their team's roster this year than the possibility of missed paychecks in 2011.
"Even if there isn't a lockout, you should do the same things, still invest and find the right places to put the money so it can work for you," Toone said. "I'm not thinking about the lockout, I'm thinking about making the team and being able to provide and have something for next year in case. If not, then I can go back to school."
Said Bradford: "I'm excited about this year. This being my rookie season, that's all I'm focused on right now, trying to learn as much as possible as soon as possible and helping my team win."
Bradford would love to play golf at La Costa but won't get the chance.
"I wish," he said. "Our schedule is jam-packed."