The rookies, their lives filling with more responsibility by the minute, have listened carefully to the personal stories of success and failure from former NFL players.
The overriding messages: Control your destiny. Don’t make our mistakes.
Adam “Pacman” Jones warned about the trappings of fame. Michael Vick spoke candidly about his dog-fighting conviction, 23 months locked in a federal prison and a second chance. Ex-NBA player Chris Herren detailed his descent into heroin’s horror.
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III has taken it all in during the rookie symposium, processing every word as if he was learning a new play — this one being the X’s and O’s of life.
“It would be easy to walk into those meetings and not listen and say, ‘I’m not that guy,'” Griffin said, “because a lot of guys on that stage said the same thing when they heard another guy in the past come in and talk to them and say, ‘I’m not that guy, it will never happen to me.’
“You take what they say, apply it to your own life and if you think ‘I’m not that guy’ at least you listened to them. You can only learn from your mistakes and others mistakes.”
Griffin is making the most of the NFL’s four-day orientation program — now in its 15th year — for the league’s newest players, some of whom may think they know what’s ahead but in truth have little idea about what they’ll face as professional athletes.
Griffin’s learning quickly.
On Monday, a former Baylor basketball player was arraigned in Waco, Texas, on federal extortion charges for allegedly threatening to release “derogatory information” about Griffin unless the Heisman Trophy winner paid him a “substantial sum” of money.
According to court documents, Richard Khamir Hurd, 25, contacted a representative from a St. Louis agency, threatening to publicize derogatory information about a client unless he was paid. The representative is identified in documents only by the initials B.D. Griffin’s agent is St. Louis-based Ben Dogra.
Hurd met at a Waco business Friday with someone who agreed to handle the transaction. After signing a non-disclosure agreement, handing over the information and receiving a check, Hurd was arrested by an undercover FBI agent.
During a youth skills clinic and barbeque on Tuesday at the Cleveland Browns’ facility, Griffin declined to comment on specifics of the case, but said his situation is a prime example of what young players have to guard against.
“You’ve got to be careful who you trust,” Griffin said. “There’s vultures out there, people who are looking to climb on top of all your money.”