Annual symposium all about teaching

The NFL Rookie Symposium, a mandatory set of meetings for all drafted players, will be held in West Palm Beach, Fla., at PGA National from June 24-27. If a player does not attend, he faces a hefty fine. In 2004, Sean Taylor was fined $25,000 for leaving the symposium early without an excuse. The NFL has repeatedly made it clear it means business when it comes to this symposium.

The function is essentially a crash course for rookies. When a player signs his first contract, he comes into a pretty substantial amount of money. The NFL made a good decision to schedule this symposium about a month before draft choices usually begin signing their contracts. In doing so, the league gets a chance to get into the ear of a player before the money gets into his pocket.

A person in his early 20s who becomes a millionaire overnight might not make the best decisions. The NFL is aware of this, and has come up with a number of ideas to protect these young players.

Through various presentations and workshops, rookies are taught about subjects ranging from media relations to sexually transmitted diseases. They will be involved in discussions with panels of experts: NFL Players Association personnel, NFL personnel, and former and current players.

In 1991, the NFL created its player development department to help support its players. Numerous teams have gotten on board, hiring personnel to help players with issues ranging from financial investments to problems at home.

The directors also make it very clear to these young men that the career of the average NFL player lasts less than four years. They make them aware that they should not only save money, but should also make sure they invest for the future.

Each franchise will send at least one representative from its player development department. The symposium acts as an opportunity for these representatives to learn as well.

Because of recent off-field issues, the NFL is stepping up its commitment to player development, and this will most certainly be addressed at the symposium.

Former Tennessee Titans general manager Floyd Reese contributes frequently to ESPN.com.