There are more glamorous vacation destinations, but at least one league official wants to make Northeast Ohio the summer home for NFL rookies.
For the second straight year, the league will hold its Rookie Symposium at the Bertram Inn and Conference Center in Aurora, Ohio, allowing for side trips to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Browns facility.
“We hope that’s our home,” senior vice president of player engagement Troy Vincent told Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. “That’s my plan. That’s why when the commissioner [Roger Goodell] asked that we consider it, just looking logistically where it was in the middle of the country, it just made sense.
“And frankly, we can’t teach enough of our history. You’re going to get that [in Northeast Ohio]. That’s the one element [you won’t find elsewhere]. I’m not getting that in South Florida. I’m not getting that in San Diego. I felt football.”
The league has held 15 of the orientation events, which include instructing rookies on everything from life skills to league policies. They’ve also divided the event into AFC and NFC sessions, to give speakers more of an opportunity to connect with players rather than trying to talk at 300 at a time.
But the trip to the Hall of Fame and the location made it easier to get the attention of the rookies, Vincent said. And even though he’s a Wisconsin man, he thought the Big 10 atmosphere was better for reaching young players.
“Last year, quite frankly, we had a good time,” Vincent said. “We felt like it was the changing of the traditional way of having the symposium of where it was located and bringing it back to what we call the ‘hometown of football.’ Being affiliated with the Hall of Fame, that was very important, bringing an element of history back.
“[It’s] not just the Hall of Fame, but with the Browns and being able to connect back to that community. Hey, I’m in football country. I’m not saying that West Palm Beach is not, but when I’m pulling up into Cleveland, I’m thinking about ‘Buckeye Nation.’ ”
Of course, getting players to think about things like fiscal responsibility and personal conduct are still the main points. But that’s easier to sell when they’re secluded from palm trees and beaches (and all the other things they’re trying to warn the newcomers about).