Without the "mandatory" status that the NFL's annual Rookie Symposium entails, and minus the threat of fines for those who do not attend the event, the NFLPA has received registrations from nearly 70 percent of the 2011 draft class for its alternative seminar, The Sports Xchange has confirmed.
The decertified players association will convene the symposium, which it has titled "The Business of Football: Rookie Edition," in Bradenton, Fla. on Monday. The event will conclude June 30.
According to an NFLPA official, the association received registration requests from 177 of the 254 players chosen in the draft nearly two months ago. That represents 69.7 percent of the draft class. Registration ended Wednesday.
"We're pleased," NFLPA senior regional director Jason Belser told The Sports Xchange via e-mail.
The league announced last month that it was canceling the 2011 Rookie Symposium, originally slated to begin June 26 in Canton, Ohio, because of the lockout. Just eight days later, the NFLPA said it would hold its own rookie session. The symposium was at first scheduled for Washington, D.C., and then subsequently moved to Bradenton, in part because of the IMG Academy facilities there.
It is believed that the NFLPA symposium will follow most of the principles and topics of the NFL sessions, which focused heavily on real-life issues such as money management, investments, dealing with celebrity and time demands, using good judgment and player demeanor in general. Like the league seminar, the NFLPA symposium is expected to feature a broad range of experts both in and outside of the game.
Created in 1997, ostensibly to help young players transition to the professional game, the seminar has been lauded as successful by NFL and NFLPA officials.
During its 14-year run, the NFL Rookie Symposium has had near-100 percent attendance, in part because it is mandatory for all drafted players. Attendance has been at 100 percent, in fact, for each of the past six years. It is believed that no player has been fined for either not attending or for departing early without an excuse, since 2004.
Len Pasquarelli is a Senior NFL Writer for The Sports Xchange. He has covered the NFL for 33 years and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee. His NFL coverage earned recognition as the winner of the McCann Award for distinguished reporting in 2008.