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NFLPA moves rookie symposium to IMG Academy in Florida

The NFL Players Association has moved its rookie symposium, scheduled for June 28 and 29, from Washington, D.C. to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

The event, entitled "The Business of Football, Rookie Edition," will be in lieu of the annual symposium organized by the NFL to educate draft picks on the life that lies ahead as a professional athlete that was cancelled last month due to the ongoing labor dispute.

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As is the case with the annual event -- traditionally a joint venture between the league and the NFLPA -- all draft picks will be invited, and the classroom schedule will follow the normal agenda closely, right down to the sessions taking place during the last few days of June. The NFLPA said it will cover all costs.

Because of the lockout, the 254 draft picks can't communicate with the teams that selected them in April.

The NFL's contingency for replacing the symposium was to expand and extend normal orientation programs held at the club level.

"We're doing this because it's the right thing to do," NFLPA spokesman George Atallah told The Associated Press.

The forum will cover financial education and planning, proper behavior on and off the field, and other information to prepare rookies for the NFL.

The league had planned to have this year's symposium at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, for the first time in an effort to better educate players on the history of the game. It was scheduled for June 27-29.

At the NFL Spring Meeting in Indianapolis last month, NFL vice president Adolpho Birch said the league "waited as long as we could" before canceling the event. He called the rookie symposium "an extremely complex event that requires a lot of people -- from all of the drafted players to the panelists and presenters, production people and the youth camp that is associated with it. It is really a large production.

"We got to the point, based on the uncertainty we have right now, that we needed to be fair to those who would be asked to come and participate and help us put it on. Given that, we had to make a decision. This was about as late as we could do it."

Birch said it would be up to the individual teams to help indoctrinate the rookies to the NFL, and that league-sponsored programs during the season would continue once the lockout ends. The lockout is in its 11th week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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