PLEASE NOTE: The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
PLEASE NOTE: The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens’ organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors’ views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
Transitioning from college football to the NFL is challenging for many rookies – and that is just on the field.
At this week’s rookie symposium, the Ravens’ newest draft picks were given a four-day crash course in off-field matters.
Joined by their fellow 2010 classmates from around the league, the annual meeting focuses on topics such as life skills, personal finances, substance abuse, financial planning and resources that the NFL and NFL Players Association make available.
“At first, it was something you weren’t really looking forward to, but in the end, it was a great experience,” said outside linebacker Sergio Kindle, the Ravens’ top draft choice. ”You got to hear from guys that you watched on TV – future Hall of Famers, retired vets.
“We’ll get our tips about the game from our coaches, but what they told us about life outside the green grass is going to be invaluable.”
Indeed, nearly 30 former players, several media members, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith addressed the rookies, whether it was on a panel or in smaller discussion groups.
Ravens Assistant Director of Player Programs Harry Swayne – a 15-year NFL veteran himself – was especially impressed with the NFL legends that had a chance to share their story.
“We had a panel on Monday that had Aeneas Williams, Irving Fryar and Hardy Nickerson about the history about of the game and what they did as rookies,” Swayne said. ”If you wanted to learn how to be a future Hall of Famer, how to be a professional, you couldn’t beat that.”
“I loved hearing from Hardy Nickerson,” Kindle said of the five-time Pro Bowl linebacker. ”He didn’t get drafted as high as he thought, just like I was. But he helped me understand that the frustration is just something you have to use to make you better. From linebacker to linebacker, I took a lot from talking with him.”
Swayne, along with Ravens Director of Player Development O.J. Brigance, made sure Baltimore’s representatives were well-prepared for all subjects.
From the first time the draftees step foot inside team headquarters, Swayne and Brigance coordinated seminars that cover many of the same topics as the symposium.
Swayne said he was proud of the way the Ravens participated in the breakout sessions, where they were paired with counterparts from the Buffalo Bills and Carolina Panthers.
“It was really a reiteration, and even then, they didn’t talk about every issue we talked about in Baltimore,” noted Swayne. ”But what those spring classes did do was break the ice. Some of the things we had already talked about back home helped our guys jump right in.”
Where the Ravens didn’t shine was in a talent show aimed at spicing up the symposium.
According to Swayne, none of the Ravens wanted the spotlight, which is surprising considering the playful personalities of guys like Kindle, Terrence Cody and Arthur Jones.
“It was a marathon, but our guys hung in there despite the talent show,” Swayne said with a laugh. ”If you were brave enough to go on stage, you had a chance to earn some prizes. I tried to convince our guys to go, but nobody wanted to bite.
“Of course, then I learn that Arthur Jones plays the piano.”