The NFL eliminated the rookie symposium this year, which means the Tampa Bay Buccaneers needed to find their own way to introduce their rookies to the NFL life. They chose to invite Warrick Dunn and Derrick Brooks to talk about the challenges NFL players face, and Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times was there to write down his observations.
The consistent message, at least as penned down by the Tampa Bay Times? Don’t get hung up on the Bucs. They don’t particularly care about you, they just want you for your on-field play.
"How many of you guys thought I retired? Raise your hand," Brooks said. "No. I was fired in this same building that I'm standing in now. …
"It took me about 15 years, 14 years of playing and one year after I got released, to understand it. I understood because of the way I carried myself. But I never really got it until one year after I was fired."
Brooks talked about how he would get free meals, until he wasn’t recognized or no longer a part of the team. How he saw someone get cut in the first year he was there. How he treated his body like a business asset. How he documented everything team trainers and doctors did to him.
Dunn apparently took a similar tack. "It's a cold, cold business," Dunn told rookies about his leaving the Bucs after five years. "Just what it is. To make matters worse, I missed out on winning a Super Bowl."
But Dunn was also candid about other challenges. About depression, about the way the team keeps tabs on every player, about his family and his charity.
Make sure you read the whole story, because there’s a lot in there. It’s definitely worth your time.