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Rookie symposium first lockout casualty

With the 10th pick in the 2011 NFL

With the 10th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Jaguars selected Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Credit: AP (Oct. 23, 2010)

The NFL Draft was the final NFL event to be held under the old CBA. Now those players who were selected in last month’s draft are the first to feel the league-wide effect of the lockout. The rookie symposium, scheduled to begin June 26 in Ohio, has been cancelled. While teams have had to cancel OTAs, voluntary training sessions and even rookie minicamps, the symposium is the first NFL-wide event to be scratched because of the labor situation.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the decision was made because of “uncertainty of the labor issues we are facing and the logistical challenges of conducting the symposium.

“The symposium is a large, complex event involving many professionals and others," Aiello added. "In fairness, we could not continue to keep their commitment on hold.”

Agent Ben Dogra, who along with partner Tom Condon represents five first-round draft picks this year, wasn't expecting the symposium to take place.

"The truth is, how can you cancel an event that isn't supposed to happen anyway since there is a lockout?" Dogra told The Associated Press. "The NFL is closed for business. Thus, to hold a rookie symposium wouldn't make any logical sense.”

The symposium is a way for the league to educate its newest players on everything from personal security to financial management to life skills. Current and former players discuss their transitions into the league with the rookies. Most teams already have their own versions of the symposium in the form of a rookie orientation program, and it is expected that those programs will become even more in-depth as a replacement for the symposium once the players are allowed to return to the team complexes.

While some rookies have said in past years that the symposium was helpful, for many it amounts to going to summer school and will not be seen as a major loss. There was an outcry to allow the rookies the once-in-a-lifetime moment of walking across the stage at Radio City and greeting the commissioner during the draft. There'll be no such outcry for missing out on this once-in-a-lifetime endeavor.

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