Bradenton, Fla., is nicknamed “The Friendly City." For a few days next week, the name “center of the NFL universe’’ might be fitting.
With apologies to whatever city might be hosting labor talks, if they’re still going on, Bradenton is going to have the market pretty well cornered on NFL players. The NFL usually holds a rookie symposium each year. Due to the lockout, the NFL Players Association is organizing a similar event in which players will be given advice on how to prepare for life in the NFL.
That will take place Tuesday and Wednesday at IMG Academies. That’s going to be a very busy place because the rookie event won’t be the only thing going on. The Bucs will hold a three-day minicamp, which is significant.
The Saints, Falcons and Panthers already have done their versions of minicamps (without coaches). This will be the first real extensive gathering of the majority of the Bucs. Quarterback Josh Freeman has done a nice job of organizing earlier workouts, but they primarily were just for offensive skill-position players. Freeman and veteran cornerback Ronde Barber have collaborated on getting most of the team together.
ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio and I will be in Bradenton to cover the rookie event and I’ll also try to swing out and catch up with the Bucs.