Because he missed it last year due to being a supplemental draft selection, I thought Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon would have to attend this year’s NFL Rookie Symposium.
Turns out I was incorrect. That’s happened once before, maybe twice.
It wouldn’t be a terrible idea though, right?
Gordon, who will miss the first two games of the 2013 season due to violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, will not be attending the 2013 symposium later this month. That was confirmed earlier this week by NFL spokesperson Corry Rush, who checked with the powers that be and responded to my inquiries.
The NFL considers the rookie symposium a big deal. It devotes a ton of money and resources to making sure its messages about money, decision-making, career management and substance abuse reach the 200+ drafted rookies who attend. It brings back former problem children to address the next generation. Seems like Gordon would be, in some ways, the symposium’s absolute target audience, no?
When then-Vikings receiver Percy Harvin missed the 2009 symposium due to sickness, there was some dicussion that he’d have to attend the following year. When the time came, the NFL did not require Harvin to attend because “he received the appropriate training during the season at the club level through the Vikings’ player development department.” Presumably, the NFL thinks the same of Gordon.
During the lockout year of 2011, the NFL Players’ Association held its own symposium-like event even though no league-sanctioned event could be held. More than 100 players didn’t show for that, but Terrelle Pryor — who was in that year’s supplemental draft — did.
The symposium is usually held in late June. The Browns selected Gordon in the supplemental draft in mid-July last year so, like Harvin and Pryor, he did not attend.
Given Gordon’s college troubles and his latest issue — and that the symposium is now held in Cleveland — maybe someone inside the Browns’ organization could give Gordon a nudge or a whisper about voluntarily attending? Per the CBA, it probably can’t be more than a nudge.
There is precedent. Another talented but troubled player, Nick Fairley of the Detroit Lions, showed up at last year’s symposium after being drafted during the lockout in 2011.
If Gordon showed up, he might win some goodwill and some PR points. More importantly, something there might stick with him. And he might learn from past offenders that it’s best to straighten up before it’s too late.