Does The NFL Provide Enough Education Off The Field?

July 11, 2013 | Brian Bower

Does the NFL need to step up to the plate even more to help rookies as well as vested players regarding how they conduct themselves off the field?

Each year the NFL holds it’s mandated NFL Rookie Symposium, but is that enough?

Let’s be honest – everyone can remember when they were younger (of if you are younger now) and what it was like to have some money in your pocket. Now, chances are the money we had pales in camparison to what NFL rookies make, but you get the idea.

Here is a quick look as to what the NFL Rookie Symposium provides the league’s youngest members.  It is an orientation for all drafted rookies. League personnel, expert facilitators, trained professionals, and active and former players are involved in delivering a program designed to give incoming players detailed information about transitioning from college to the professional level.

The program provides an orientation to life in the NFL including social responsibility, professional development, community engagement, league policies, workplace conduct, and media relations. In addition, the symposium offers educational life-skills workshops on topics ranging from substance abuse, managing relationships, domestic violence, DUI, gambling, financial education, and family issues. These sessions help young players to recognize the off-the-field challenges that life as a professional football player may bring while also teaching them how to handle these challenges successfully.

The NFL and its teams are committed to providing players with the best resources to develop themselves both personally and professionally.

However, should it end there?  What about third, fourth, seventh year members of the league? We all have heard numerous cases in the news about players’ off-field issues. Every NFL offseason there are news articles seemingly every day headlining various media outlets as to who did what and when.

I understand the league and each and every team can not “babysit” everybody and to expect that is plain silly. A player has to be responsible for his actions at some point in time. The “he’s a kid” argument only lasts so long. Perhaps holding more similar symposiums in the offseason would help.

One great thing the NFL has provided to current and former members is a simple system where a chauffeured car will take players wherever, whenever. All the player has to do is just call the 1-800 number on the back of their NFL player I.D. card.  This is called the Player Transportation Link (PTL), and has been around since 2011. The NFLPA assumes the administrative fees, and the confidential prearranged ride costs players $90.

The NFLPA’s PTL featured 51 calls (38 were prearranged, and 13 were non-scheduled/emergency) in August 2012; 53 (38 and 15, respectively) in September 2012; 55 (39 and 16) in October 2012; 58 (46 and 12) in November 2012; 96 (71 and 25) in December 2012; 103 (74 and 29) in January 2013; 116 (83 and 33) in February 2013 and 68 (54 and 14) in March 2013.

Through veteran leadership as well as friendships formed throughout the league, one hopes that the players will use all of the services provided to them.

Still, how’s that old saying go?

“You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.”

Should the NFL proactively do more for veteran players, instead of just punishing them when they do screw up? Or do you think this is something that’s solely on the players themselves?


*Stats provided by Yahoo Sports Jeff Fedotin

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