Since the NFL Draft in April delivered them to Florida, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' rookies have been striving to soak up as much information as possible, all in the hopes of having an instant impact for their new team this fall.
And, even after the Buccaneers' offseason training program came to an end and the team's veterans scattered for one last pre-training camp vacation, the learning process continues for those NFL newcomers. This coming week, that ongoing effort will take Tampa Bay's six 2012 draft picks to Ohio, where they will join the rest of the NFC's drafted rookies in the NFL's 15th Rookie Symposium.
The NFL calls its annual symposium an opportunity for the league's newest representatives to gain knowledge about the history of the sport, understand the state of the game today and learn how they can make a positive impact on it in the future. It is intend to provide these inexperienced players with all the resources they need to succeed, and to make the league stronger for everyone.
Buccaneer rookies Mark Barron, Doug Martin, Lavonte David, Najee Goode, Keith Tandy, Michael Smith and Drake Dunsmore arrive in Aurora, Ohio this weekend and will take part in symposium meetings and activities from Sunday through Wednesday, June 24-27. In order to give all of the young players more personal attention, the NFL for the first time has split the symposium into two parts, with the NFC rookies coming into town first and the AFC rookies following from June 27-30.
This year's Rookie Symposium attendees will be given a particularly interesting NFL history lesson, as for the first time it will include presentations and speakers at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in nearby Canton, Ohio. The Hall of Fame, which first opened in 1963 and now includes 267 enshrinees, boasts an extensive collection of historical items from the NFL's 92 seasons so far, including a bust of Buccaneer Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon that Tampa Bay's rookies might find particularly inspiring.
The core principles the league will be emphasizing to its newest players this coming week are NFL history, experience, player expectations and professional and social responsibility. Among the other topics that will be discussed is perhaps the league's highest-profile issue at the moment, player safety.
To help emphasize these principles, the NFL has enlisted the help of a large group of former and current players, all of whom will share their experiences with the 2012 rookies. With guest speakers such as Aenaes Williams, LaVar Arrington, Michael Vick, Adam Jones and Terrell Owens, the young players will certainly hear about a wide variety of experiences, achievements, challenges and struggles. During the sessions in Canton, Hall of Famers Michael Irvin and Carl Eller will address the symposium attendees.
The guest speakers will help to lead a range of panel discussions, with topics to include "Transitioning to the NFL," Self-Regulation," "Staying in the Game," and "What Defines Success." Each player will also participate in a Play 60 youth football clinic with children that will take place at the Cleveland Browns' training complex.
The Buccaneers expect their 2012 draftees to have long and productive NFL journeys. This week's Rookie Symposium will help them take their first few steps in the right direction.