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NFLPE welcomes guest blogger Gus Bradley, Head Coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars and speaker at the NFL Rookie Symposium.  

It truly is a privilege to have an opportunity to come into this environment and be around really strong competitors like we have in front of us. It's an awesome environment. To be around guys who really want to get better, why wouldn't you want to be here?

We talked in terms of having a genuine appreciation for the game. I hope they have a genuine appreciation for what they are undertaking – the NFL – and respect the game and everything about it. And not just appreciate it, but genuinely appreciate it, because it is a unique opportunity. You don't know how long it's going to last and you want to take advantage of it.

There are a lot of expectations on these players, but there are solutions or at least ways to try to minimize those expectations and to minimize distractions in their life. I think it's important to address this because so many times we give them the expectations, but we don't necessarily tell them how to handle it. That was my message –to say there are solutions out there. You can calm your world down.

I do think the biggest challenge for the rookies is the expectations and distractions in their lives. The football part they love...the intensity, the preparation, they love that. I think getting out on the field is probably more of a release. I think it's a lot of the outside things that affect them, like the expectations of hey, we drafted you here, so we expect this from you. It's the dealing with tickets to people asking them more money, everybody pulling at them...

So many times we hear about a rookie hitting that wall. I think maybe it's how the culture is; maybe there's something to be said about saying, can we change our culture, can we adjust our culture and maybe eliminate that wall and some of these other things to allow them to be their best for a longer duration.

It's hard on these guys and there are so many things that are pulling at them. But, fortunately, the NFL gives them a lot of resources, a lot of people that can help them out. They just need to utilize them.

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MADD On Site At Rookie Symposium

NFLPE welcomes guest blogger Nick Ellinger, the Vice President of Strategic Outreach for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), an official partner of the NFL.

MADD is here to make sure that these players are able to make good choices in their rookie year in regards to drunk driving. We know that this is a challenging time for them, and we know that 21 to 30 year olds are more likely to drive drunk than any other age group. So this is a perfect audience to talk to about it.

The message is not don't drink. The message is think about how you're going to get home when you go out. That can be a cab, that can be Uber, that can be mass transit, a limo...but planning that out before they leave is important so they make that decision before they start drinking.

We had a very receptive audience and a lot of good discussion with the rookies. They seemed very receptive to Jan Withers (MADD President), Donte Stallworth's and Delanie Walker's messages. Both Dante and Delanie bring credibility because they are people who have sat in these seats; they are people that the players want to emulate with long, successful careers. To have one come and talk about the impact drunk driving had on him and his family and the other talk about the impact that his drunk driving had on another's very eye opening for these players.

It was the first time that Donte spoke about this at the Rookie Symposium, which was a new perspective. MADD has been talking to this from the perspective of those who have been impacted by someone else's drunk driving. It's another thing to say, "I'm a person who made this mistake. I want you to learn from the things that I have done." And it's very courageous on Donte's part to come forth and tell his story.

The main thing we want these guys to take away is to plan how you are going to get home before you go out. We'd also love to have some of these folks joining in MADD's efforts to help educate the community. But the basic thing is to have a plan. 

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Enjoy the Moment

NFL Player Engagement welcomes guest blogger Betty Roby, mother of mother of the 31st overall pick in the 2014 Draft Bradley Roby.

I was very impressed with the amount of support and services that are available from the NFL. I really enjoyed the presentations by NFLPE. Everybody spoke about all of the different resources that are available and I have actually already taken advantage of some of the background checks that they offered through NFL Security . There are some financial advisers we were speaking to, and I had a background check done with respect to them.  It was very helpful.

I'm definitely more nervous than Bradley but we're both excited. I haven't given him any special advice regarding this week. I've just told him just to be himself, just be Bradley, be relaxed and enjoy it because it's definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity, so enjoy it as much as you can.

I have had friends whose sons were drafted in prior years, so I had an idea of what to expect this week, so there haven't been big surprises.

It didn't really occur to me that Bradley would be an NFL player until his coach came to us last November and said he should declare. He is foregoing his last year of eligibility but he's already had four years of college.  I think Bradley has known for a while he was going to get here but I guess it's been about a year a half.

I think his father felt since his senior year in high school when he ran a 4.34 40 at the Nike camp that he had what it takes to go this level.  So we knew he had the physical ability but it wasn't until probably his sophomore eligibility year that we felt he had the whole package, because physical ability is one thing but that doesn't always translate and there's more that goes into it. 

I don't think our lives are going to change very much except for assisting him.  We have gone to every one of his college games. So I don't anticipate we will go to every NFL game but we'll go a lot of them. He's our only child so we want to see him as much as possible.

I've always followed NFL football and always loved it.  In the offseason I watch tape.  I am glued to the TV and I just can't tell you how much I love football.

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