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NFLPA seminar opens with financial management talk

SportsLine.com wire reports
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The NFLPA's replacement of the rookie symposium, which was canceled by the NFL because of the lockout, is taking place this week at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

Last week, NFLPA officials told The Sports Xchange 177 of the 255 drafted players this year had registered for the event as of last Wednesday.

With presentations beginning Tuesday, the NFLPA said 152 players were in attendance (59.6 percent) as well as three undrafted players.

Two of the identified undrafted players are Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who is expected to apply for a supplemental draft, and Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich.

The NFL required attendance for all drafted players at its symposium in recent years.

An NFLPA statement about players that did not attend said, "This event was not mandatory. We want the players to understand there's an element of responsibility that comes along with being a professional football player. Our doors are open. They can choose to come in."

One of the areas of responsibility is financial management, which was the subject of a 90-minute seminar Tuesday.

Speaking to the players were former Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, former Detroit Lions defensive lineman Luther Ellis and Karl McDonnell, chief operating officer of Strayer University.

Gibbs told USA Today, "We did kind of a pilot study with the Redskins. I really felt like the guys that participated really, really benefited. They were really excited about it. Having seen that, I starting thinking, 'Wouldn't it be great if we could take this throughout the league.'"

Gibbs said he had a sense during contract negotiations with some players that the need for a new contract was linked to having financial problems.

"A player would be upset with his contract, we'd be in serious discussions," Gibbs told the paper. "And during the conversation, it dawns on you, 'Are you in financial trouble?' That happens over and over again."

Ellis, who made about $20 million in his 11-year career, nevertheless filed for bankruptcy in 2010. He told foxsports.com, "The biggest thing that took us down the path of bankruptcy was being overextended to the point that I was counting on future earnings that didn't happen and being involved in businesses that I shouldn't have been involved with. As good as the opportunities maybe seemed, if I would have put that money aside and just earned a modest interest rate of 6-to-7 percent, I'd be so much further ahead right now.

"And then I would have had the chance to sit back and look at what are the real opportunities, my personal passions, my wife's personal passions and [decide] the things we want to be involved in. It would have changed our whole future."

McDonnell told SiriusXM Radio, "These players have a tendency to get approached by a lot of people, family and friends. We've actually drafted a letter they can use that says, 'I'm going to take the next year getting used to being in the NFL. I'm not going to make any major commitments,' just to give them a little breathing room.

"One of the things we want these young players to realize is the decisions they make in the next one-to-two years are really going to impact their lives forever. We want them to get off to a good start."

Plaxico Burress, who was released from prison June 6 after serving nearly two years on gun charges, is also scheduled to talk to the players this week.

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