There might not be a more fitting time for the rookies of the NFL to watch the tragic turn of events involving Aaron Hernandez.
The league’s rookies, including the Texans nine draft picks, are required to attend the rookie Symposium in Cleveland this week. It’s an orientation that focuses on the history of the NFL, total wellness, experience and professionalism. Players also learn about proper health, safety and most importantly, the responsibility to successfully navigate through off-the field challenges. Something that Hernandez has obviously struggled with to the point of a murder charge.
Wednesday, the day Hernandez was arrested at his home and charged with murder, was the day the AFC rookies were checking out and the NFC rookies were just arriving. Texans first-round pick DeAndre Hopkins, who has seen several of his own family members have their lives derailed by bad choices, has used Andre Johnson not just as a mentor on the field, but off of it as well.
“He’s taught me to be a professional in every aspect of life,” Hopkins said of Johnson. “From calling my mom, little stuff like that, just being professional and not forgetting where you came from. Don’t let all this going on around you overwhelm you. Stay to your upbringing and be humble.”
Adam Jones and Maurice Clarett both spoke at the symposium. Both players have made poor decisions in the past and both took the time to tell their story, in an attempt to tell the newest group of NFL players to not do as they have done.
“A lot of players get caught up in the hype,” Texans rookie outside linebacker Trevardo Williams said. “I can’t blame them because they work so hard to get here. Eventually they’ll realize how much of a privilege it is.”
Hernandez’s arrest was on full display for all the rookies. Sessions could have been cancelled and players could have just looked up at the TV and seen in real time what the league is trying to accomplish with the orientation.
Alan Bonner was a sixth-round pick by the Texans out of Jacksonville State. Bonner, like so many other rookies, gets his advice from players he knows personally. Ones that have been in the league a few years in an effort to learn what the life is like.
“I talk with him a good bit and he’s just been telling me a lot of things about how to manage money and how to keep your nose clean,” Bonner said.
Brennan Williams gets his advice from his father. Williams’ father, Brent Williams, played in the NFL from 1986-1993 with the New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks and New York Jets as a defensive end.
“Well my dad is a financial advisor so that helps a lot,” Williams said with a laugh. “I ask him things, like I’m moving into my apartment and I had to get a TV. And I was like, ‘how much should spend on a TV?’ Stuff like that he’s really helpful for.”
Williams spends his free time watching professional wrestling, playing video games and reading comic books. He said he’s not really the type to have issues off the field.
“My dad understands what kind of person I am generally,” Williams said. “I’m not the type of guys that is going out and blowing I don’t know how much at a night club. He’s like, ‘don’t go overboard with your Steam account on your computer or don’t get too many Netflix accounts or something like that’.”
Hernandez’s current situation is one that should be a warning sign for all NFL players. Sadly because of Hernandez, this could be the most affective rookie symposium the NFL has ever put on.