The NFL’s drafted rookies visiting the Pro Football Hall of Fame before attending their first pro training camp over the last eight years came from a suggestion made by Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin.
Now that the NFL has eliminated the annual rookie symposium in favor of events and seminars held at individual team facilities, the Hall of Fame visit has also been scrapped. Citing the same reasons that sparked the idea, Irvin told the Canton Repository he thinks the league is making a mistake in taking away what he considers to be a very valuable history lesson.
“I don’t like it,” Irvin said. “You’re asking young men to respect and appreciate the game, but how can they when a lot of them don’t play the game for the appreciation of the game or the history of the game? A lot of them play the game to escape their history, which is the ghetto.
“I originally thought about it as I watched the draft and saw all those kids crying and saying to their moms, ‘I’m going to take care of you.’ They are aligned with that. They know the history of their mom and how she sacrificed to get them there. They’re like, ‘I’m going to get you that house. I’m going to get you what you need now.’
“It’s no different here. If you get the (NFL) history and see the ones who gave you the opportunity to have this life, how can you not appreciate it? I think it’s important for athletes in the NFL or any sport to understand the gift they’ve been given.”
Under the most recent rookie symposium format, rookies were housed in a Cleveland suburb and visited the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Individual teams made arrangements to bring their rookies to Canton starting in 2008.