The shift from college football to the NFL is extremely complex. With the jump comes a lot of changes—fame, money, pressure, expectations—and figuring out how to be a professional can be difficult for 20-somethings fresh out of school.
With this in mind, the league has decided to scrap the annual rookie symposium and replace it with a new rookie transition program.
Instead of gathering all NFL first-years in one place to teach them about the real world, each team will host a program of its own. According to NFL Vice President of Player Engagement Charles Way, the hope is that putting an onus on teams will help athletes learn about their new surroundings as well as general information.
"Our goal is to onboard every NFL rookie with the best resources and practices for a successful playing experience both on and off the field," said Way, who spent five years as a New York Giants running back. "By shifting the model to the clubs from a centrally located program exclusive to drafted rookies, we can reach all of our rookies, introduce them to resources in their community, and afford them the experience from active and former players at their club who successfully transitioned into the NFL."
Per the league, these meetings will explore social responsibility, respect at work, mental health, character and values and player engagement resources, health and safety, policies and resources, working with the news media in the age of social media, financial education and playing rule changes from college to the pros.
And, unlike the past, undrafted rookies will be able to attend the three-day sessions.
"This new orientation program is a win-win because it allows us to give every rookie the benefit of resources from the league that will contribute to success both on and off the field," said Kaleb Thornhill, Miami Dolphins Director of Player Engagement. "It also brings onboarding home to our club's heritage and culture, and the resources and relationships available in our community."