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NFL calls off rookie symposium with lockout still in effect

The NFL confirmed Tuesday that it has canceled this year's rookie symposium, making it the first league event lost because of the lockout.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement that the decision to call off the event, scheduled to start June 26 in Canton, Ohio, came because of "uncertainty of the labor issues we are facing and the logistical challenges of conducting the symposium.

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"The symposium is a large, complex event involving many professionals and others," Aiello added. "In fairness, we could not continue to keep their commitment on hold."

The symposium brings together rookies for mandatory sessions in life skills and money management and allows them to meet current and former players. The event is intended to help ease the first-year pros' transition to the NFL and provide them with resources to use in their personal and professional lives.

"Obviously I'm disappointed because I think the symposium is a valuable learning and bonding experience," player agent David Canter told The Associated Press. One of his clients, linebacker Doug Hogue, was drafted by the Detroit Lions last month.

Atlanta Falcons first-round pick Julio Jones was unmoved by the cancellation of the symposium.

"I'm just really ready to play some football, but this is out of our hands," the former University of Alabama wide receiver said while working out in Buford, Ga. "The only thing we can do is just continue to get better."

Oakland Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain was asked how much the rookie symposium benefited him last year after he was a first-round selection, also out of Alabama.

"I mean they try to give you an understanding of what it's like to be a rookie, but a lot of that off-the-field stuff, that's just common sense," McClain said. "Stay out of trouble. That's it. "

No set plans are in place, but the contingency to replace the education that players receive at the symposium would be to make rookie orientation more intensive at the team level, whenever the 2011 league year begins.

All teams already have their own orientatation programs. The idea would be to add to those materials missed by the cancellation of the symposium.

Agent Ben Dogra, who along with partner Tom Condon represents five first-round draft picks this year, didn't expect the symposium to take place.

"The truth is, how can you cancel an event that isn't supposed to happen anyway since there is a lockout?" Dogra told The AP. "The NFL is closed for business. Thus, to hold a rookie symposium wouldn't make any logical sense."

No real NFL business is expected to happen any time soon. Teams already have called off minicamps, and training camps also might not start on time. Free agency has yet to begin.

Teams and their draftees haven't been allowed to communicate since the NFL gained a stay in court upholding the lockout, which the league instituted March 12, one day after the players decided to dissolve their union.

The NFL's appeal of an injunction lifting the lockout will be heard June 3 at the 8th U.S. District Court of Appeals in St. Louis. A decision isn't expected for at least a few weeks and possibly not until some time in mid-to-late July.

NFL Network insider Albert Breer and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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