The NFL has done an excellent job of trying to pass some wisdom down to the young men who are about to become very rich, very quickly. The NFL Rookie Symposium is an introduction to what life in the NFL will be all about for the young men entering their first season in the league.
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Subjects discussed include NFL history, wellness and professionalism. However, in the NFL they realize that there are other incredibly serious issues these young men will face that need to be addressed as well.
These subjects include preventing domestic violence, financial decision making and of course substance abuse. Each year the league finds someone to speak to the incoming players about issues they have dealt with, and we all know hearing it straight from the person who experienced the issue usually hits home the hardest.
“I said, ‘I’ll do [cocaine] once,’ and that one try lasted 14 years.”
The 2015 NFL Rookie Symposium was able to do exactly that for some Texans rookies who were present to hear former NBA player Chris Herren discuss how he lost a once promising career to substance abuse.
"“In this room, fact, there are more future drug addicts than millionaires. That’s a fact,” said Herren as part of his speech to the AFC’s rookies. Herren, in an exclusive interview with NFL Network’s Jeff Darlington, talked about the need for rookies to find the right role models on their new teams. “I believe they should already have in place the research to see who in their locker room is somebody they can buddy up with,” Heren added."
Herren was a star high school basketball player in Massachusetts, and attended Boston College. He was unable to finish his college career out at BC, as he was kicked off the team for marijuana and alcohol use.
After moving to Fresno State he again failed a drug test and spent time in rehab. His substance abuse most likely scared teams off and he fell in the draft as he was selected in the second round of the NBA draft by the Denver Nuggets in 1999.
"“I was a drinker,” Herren said. “I smoked pot, but I always said, ‘That’s where it would begin and end.’ Cocaine … I was scared to death, and I said, ‘I’ll do it once,’ and that one try lasted 14 years.”"
The abuse not only ruined his career, it drained him financially and led to seven felony arrests. The worst incident however was when Herren overdosed on heroin and crashed his vehicle into a pole. EMT’s who arrived said that he was actually dead for about 30 seconds, which is a scary fate he hopes players coming into professional sports can now avoid.
His words were heard by the members of the Houston Texans rookie squad and the message seems to have been received loud and clear by the young men.
"Texans rookie wide receiver Jaelen Strong was moved by Herren’s comments, tweeting out the message below on Tuesday."
Hopefully more players on the Texans and around the league were listening to the warnings being given by the man who overcame some serious self-inflicted hardships. For his part, Herren has done an amazing job turning his mistakes in life into an opportunity to help young people moving forward.
"“I hope my transparency, my honesty, my struggle, gives them a little inspiration to share a little bit of theirs,” Herren commented. “If they can tap into that now, they can have a very successful career and a great start in life.”"