NFC rookies embrace life lessons

BEREA, Ohio -- This week, the National Football League is hosting its annual Rookie Symposium in Northeast Ohio, and during the week-long seminar, the NFL brings in speakers to counsel the first-year professionals on everything from practice to off-the-field decisions.

And the 2014 draft class is paying close attention to the messages the speakers deliver.

"There's a lot of good things," said Dallas linebacker, and Lorain native, Anthony Hitchens. "A lot of people come back and share their stories, good or bad, and it's good for a lot of people that don't realize a lot of financial things and just the basic things to being a rookie.

"I already had a good knowledge of it with the people I've been around, (Iowa) Coach (Kirk) Ferentz, and the way I was raised. I'm not going to ignore it, but it's refreshing me on what I already know."

Former Ohio State, and current San Francisco 49ers, running back Carlos Hyde paid particular attention to the presenter on drinking and driving.

"They were really hitting on the DUI part," Hyde said. "They had a couple speakers that were telling us about teams having car services to come pick you up. They're telling us with drinking and driving how quick, with one drink, you can get in the car, go hit somebody and boom, your whole life changes.

"The Symposium is huge. I'm glad that they have this. They're teaching us what to do, what you shouldn't do. We're listening to guys who have made mistakes in our position or they've been places where we're trying to go. It's good to hear."

As part of the week-long introduction to life in the NFL, the rookies served as instructors at a Play 60 Youth Football Clinic for children of local service men and women, as well as football players from the Akron Parent Pee Wee Football Association and the city of Cleveland's recreation centers.

"All of the kids have got a lot of energy, are smiling," Hitchens said. "It was great to get out here with the kids, and I know it means a lot to them. Every time I get a chance to give back to kids, I'm all in."

Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater added, "I just love being able to come out and give back to the kids. I wasn't fortunate to be able to attend things like these when I was growing up. Being able to just come back out here and make these kids' day, for some of these kids, it's going to be the highlight of their summer, their day, their week. It just means a lot to me to be able to share the knowledge and share the fundamentals of football with the kids."


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