Tuesday, May 24, 2011
NFL rookie symposium called off
ESPN.com news services
INDIANAPOLIS -- The NFL has canceled next month's rookie symposium because of the ongoing lockout.
League spokesman Greg Aiello said Tuesday the decision was made because of "the uncertainty of the labor issues we are facing and the logistical challenges of conducting the symposium."
"The symposium is a large, complex event involving many professionals and others," he added. "In fairness, we could not continue to keep their commitment on hold."
The symposium, which was to begin in Canton, Ohio, on June 26, is designed to teach rookies life lessons on dealing with football, finances and their new lifestyle. Many players who have been through the symposium have said it has been a positive first step in their transition to the NFL.
But with the NFL and NFLPA at an impasse -- and with both sides waiting for a June 3 court hearing before the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on the legality of the ongoing lockout -- the event is not going forward.
Teams and their draftees have not been allowed to communicate since the NFL gained a stay in court upholding the lockout.
The symposium would have been held in Canton, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, for the first time.
The NFL also had called off programs that were scheduled for March at Wharton and Harvard. Those programs focused on financial education.
"Obviously I'm disappointed because I think the symposium is a valuable learning and bonding experience," player agent David Canter said. One of his clients, linebacker Doug Hogue, was drafted by Detroit.
"Canceling the symposium is part of the issue related to the inability of the owners to put forth a deal that can get done in time so we can get back to football and the business of football," Canter said. "It's all very upsetting and sad for all parties involved."
Agent Ben Dogra, who along with partner Tom Condon represents five first-round draft choices this year, didn't expect the symposium to take place.
"The truth is, how can you cancel an event that isn't supposed to happen anyway since there is a lockout," Dogra said. "The NFL is closed for business. Thus, to hold a rookie symposium wouldn't make any logical sense."
Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers, the league's only publicly owned team, say they will hold their annual shareholders meeting on July 28 at Lambeau Field regardless of whether their is a new collective bargaining agreement in place.
As the NFL's only publicly owned team, the Packers must report their financial results every year. While those figures typically are made available beforehand, the meeting is likely to draw more attention than usual if the lockout is still in place.
The traditional Family Night scrimmage is scheduled for Aug. 6 if the labor impasse is resolved.
Information from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, ESPN NFL business analyst Andrew Brandt and The Associated Press was used in this report.