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The NFL held its eleventh annual Rookie Symposium this week and the invitees were all 255 members of the 2007 NFL Draft Class. The symposiumâ€™s purpose is to assist the rookies in a number of areas: personal finance, life skills, personal conduct, life as a rookie, media policy, substances of abuse, personal experiences, family issues, player development, success in the NFL and life after football, football operations, and NFL security.
"We’re concerned about them as men," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stressed at the symposium held in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. "How do they become not only great NFL players, but how do they become great men? How do they conduct themselves appropriately for the remainder of their life, not just when they’re in the National Football League?"
Now if Iâ€™m the parent of one of these 255 young men and Iâ€™m hearing or reading Goodellâ€™s words and seeing how swiftly he has reprimanded the leagueâ€™s thugs, Iâ€™m down with the new Commish. These athletes are coddled throughout the high school and collegiate levels and when they reach the bigs and they are given a big wallet with more Benjamins than theyâ€™ve ever imagined, the word spoiled comes to mind.
And spoiled kids can leave a trail of broken glass or worse if they arenâ€™t given direction from those who have experienced the benefits and pitfalls of such a material world.
Some will embrace the message, a few will ignore it and one might even challenge it.
During this weekâ€™s symposium, new Ravensâ€™ QB Troy Smith challenged The Commish.
â€œIn every sense thus far since I was drafted, itâ€™s been more of a disciplinary feel. When, where is the positive stuff from you going to come out?â€ Smith said.
Goodell responded by saying, â€œWhen you say positive stuff, I walk around talking about the players and what they do in their communities every place I go.
"Unfortunately, the media hits you with the negavites, and the commissioner has to deal with a lot of negatives. But I promote our players every chance I can about what we are doing in our communities, (and) what the players our doing in the community that reflects on the shield.
â€œWhen I talk about that shield, I talk about that shield because everyone here has an interest in it Troy. It is not just about your individual team. It is not just about where you came from, the Ohio State University. Itâ€™s about what you represent as an NFL player right now, and we all represent that shield.â€
â€œYou havenâ€™t answered my question.â€
But maybe Goodell did answer the question.
Are we as a society so consumed by the misfortunes of others that we prefer to hear bad news instead of good news? And if thatâ€™s true, why is that? Does it make us feel less inferior?
Letâ€™s face it, whether it is this site or Eyewitness News or People Magazine, the intent is to be interesting and compelling enough to lure visitors, viewers or readers. Content is king and if youâ€™ve got it, then youâ€™ll get sponsors.
Is bad news good content? Is good news bad content? Is it harder to sell?
So many times we hear about off the field issues with athletes. The headlines too often go like this: â€œPacman Jones Questioned in Triple Shootingâ€, â€œAnother Bengal Gets Locked Upâ€, â€œTank Johnson Gets DUIâ€, etc., etc.
Is bad news the only kind that sells?
What about the good things that athletes do in the community? Why donâ€™t we hear more about those? Are those things expected and/or taken for granted and therefore they really donâ€™t qualify as â€œnews?â€
Did you know that Derrick Mason established a foundation in his name to provide at-risk children and families in the Nashville area with opportunities to pursue their dreams?
Did you know that Ed Reed established the Eye of the Hurricane Foundation to give back to his community? He holds football camps at Destrehan (LA) High School and assists youth programs in his hometown. Locally Reed adopted Booker T. Washington Middle School in Baltimore. He visits the school regularly and provides tickets to students for Ravens home games.
Instead of giving Mason his deserved props for his efforts we focus in on his voiced frustrations with the Ravensâ€™ offense in â€™06. We will look at Ed Reed as being less than appreciative of an organization that made him a wealthy man when he inferred that the Ravens have been â€œshadyâ€ in their dealings with Adalius Thomas.
The bottom line is that both Troy Smith and Roger Goodell have valid points. Smith wants to hear good news and he wants the league to champion it more. Goodell says that he often blows the good news trumpet but the media fails to broadcast it.
The bottom line is we all can help.
The players can tune in at the symposiums and become better men. The league can spend equal amounts of time policing bad deeds and exulting good ones. The media can deliver all deeds with balance. The companies that sponsor the various forms of media can demand such balance and we as fans of the league can support it.
The news doesnâ€™t have to be the Good Ship Lollipop.