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Rams Stage Rookie Orientation

Posted May 29, 2016

This week, the Rams' first-year players are hearing from a number of speakers to further their off-the-field professional development.

People often refer to the speed of the game as the biggest adjustment NFL rookies must overcome in order to be successful. But there is more to making the jump from the college to professional level, especially when it comes to off-the-field matters.

That’s why the Rams are staging an orientation before the club kicks off OTAs next Tuesday. Led by Director of Player Engagement La’Roi Glover, Los Angeles’ rookies are attending a speaker series during afternoons this week in order to help them get prepared for everything they’ll face as an NFL player.

“They will be getting tidbits on mindfulness, of getting into a zone state as an athlete, learning about topics and issues that typically occur off the field,” Glover said. “Obviously, their coaches go through the Xs and Os of what they need to do on the field to be successful. My role is to fill in the blank of some of those opportunities that may present themselves off the field — as far as life skills, managing money, and managing fame.”

The timing of orientation — before the Rams’ draft picks sign their rookie deals — is an important aspect of the process. While it isn’t the first time the organization has put on the program, Glover said it’s even more critical this year as the Rams return to Southern California.

“Understanding the gravity of what we’re about to encounter in the new marketplace is important,” Glover said. “And the most important piece is, there are resources. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for them. Not just help on the football field from a football perspective, but help navigating life. Help navigating family, help navigating finances, help navigating anything that comes about on or off the football field.”

To that end, on Wednesday afternoon, the rookies heard from Dr. Tim Benson, author of Surviving Success: 7 Critical Skills Needed To Thrive Under The Pressures of The Athletic, Academic, and Professional Spotlight. Benson’s presentation centered around how the young men can develop support systems in order to accomplish their goals — not only as a player, but also in life.

“I really try to emphasize the fact that what it takes for some people to get to certain places is not what’s necessarily going to keep them there,” Benson said. “It’s also important to know that there are going to be things that are going to come at you in terms of the unknown that can actually turn your dreams into disasters. So that’s why I help prevent that as best as I can.”

It was an interactive presentation, with Benson emphasizing he wanted to run through his powerpoint mainly to provide jumping off points for discussion. And once it was complete, the rookies engaged, asking enough questions to last nearly an hour.

“I think that they responded to the importance of setting boundaries and how that can be difficult to do. Saying ‘no’ is often equated to, for some people, saying that ‘I don’t love you,’” Benson said. “I say, ‘Where there are no boundaries, there can be no progress.’ So it’s important to kind of set those boundaries, say no, in order to kind of continue to go forward. But it can be very, very difficult.

“There’s a lot of guilt that’s behind that,” Benson continued. “But it’s necessary in terms of people kind of going forward and being able to stay focused on what’s most important.”

Glover — who played 13 years in the NFL for the Saints, Cowboys, and Rams — was able to add his own perspective to the questions as someone who has direct experience with what the rookies are about to face.

“He always comes in right after one of the [speakers]. He’ll piggy back off of them, kind of relate it to sports … to make us understand it a lot more,” wide receiver Pharoh Cooper said. “It’s always great for him to be right there in our corner.”

“Oftentimes presenters give it in big chunks and many times, you may miss one, or two, or three individuals,” Glover said. “What I typically like to do is take it and break it down into little tiny digestible pieces so they can get it, so they can absorb it, so they can take it with them as they move forward in their football careers and in their lives.”

According to tight end Temarrick Hemingway, the entire week has been meaningful as the players begin their first year in the NFL.

“It’s really given us good information on how things are in L.A. — what spots to go to, what spots to stay away from,” Hemingway said. “So it’s been really helpful for us.”

And so while many rookies still have plenty of work to do in order to eventually make an NFL roster, they have been given plenty of tools to aid in their personal and professional development.