NEW YORK—Draft-eligible, active and former NFL players participated in the 2011 NFL Players Association Rookie Debut, a series of events that served as a celebration of legacy.
Past, present and future football players came together in downtown Manhattan to honor those making the journey from prospect to professional.
“The Rookie Debut is a special time for all of our players to come together and welcome them into the NFLPA/NFL PLAYERS family,” said Keith Gordon, NFL PLAYERS president. “It also represents a unique opportunity for the new class of players to engage with our business partners during the many special events in one of the most exciting cities in the world.”
The 48 attendees included 22 draft-eligible prospects, 16 active players and 10 former players. Among the select group of players were four Heisman Trophy winners and three Hall of Famers. Nine of the top 10 picks in the 2011 NFL Draft attended the NFLPA Rookie Debut.
“The NFLPA Rookie Debut means meeting my new teammates and my NFLPA family for the first time,” said Rahim Moore, a UCLA product who was selected by the Broncos with the 45th overall pick. Moore added that he admires Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed and observes a strict “no-junk food” diet to stay in top physical shape.
Events hosted by the NFLPA included a family-inclusive welcome meeting/reception, national media opportunities, two sponsored lunches, hospitality lounges, a dinner reception and a community football/healthy living clinic. The weekend culminated with the Rookie Debut’s signature event, a “One Team Celebration” that honored the achievements of all players past, present and future.
Many players stressed the importance of all players—rising rookies, veterans and former players—to show solidarity on “One Team” and remain unified during a tumultuous time in the NFL.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said, “During this Rookie Debut, let’s embrace everything that we love about football: the players of the National Football League, the fans who love them and the games that we have grown to love over the last few decades.”
Several players said that after being drafted, the most exciting part of being a rookie is meeting their teammates and being in a professional locker room.
“Just knowing that your life changes so much in one year … it’s amazing, going through the whole experience,” said second-year defensive back Joe Haden of the Cleveland Browns.
A special promotion, the “Facebook Call a Fan Contest” gave one lucky fan the chance of a lifetime. On Saturday, Josh Chance, of College Station, TX, was selected at random from among all correct draft predictions posted on the NFLPA’s Facebook page to receive a live call from Von Miller, the No. 2 pick in the draft.
“This is our opportunity to present to our fans the best that football has to offer: the players of the National Football League,” Smith added. “Football is American, it’s for our players and it’s for our fans.”
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