SBJ/June 13-19, 2011/Labor and Agents

NFLPA quickly aligns with IMG for rookie event

On the same day last month that the NFL Players Association announced it would create its own event to replace the NFL Rookie Symposium, IMG reached out to the players group and began talks about hosting it.

Last week, every player selected in the NFL draft in April was sent an email, inviting them to the NFLPA’s first Business of Football: Rookie Edition event, to be held June 28-29 at IMG Academies, the 450-acre athlete training facility in Bradenton, Fla., owned by the sports, entertainment and media company.

“The IMG Academies has always had a relationship with the players, and they approached us once we made the announcement that we intended on hosting our own program for the incoming rookie class,” said George Atallah, NFLPA assistant executive director, external affairs. “They reached out and said they wanted to partner with us, and we determined an association with them would be the best experience for these young professionals.”

Atallah would not reveal financial details of the deal but did say, “They offered us a really good opportunity and are working with us as partners.”

The NFLPA announced that it would create its own event to educate players entering the NFL on May 31, about a week after the league announced it was canceling its annual NFL Rookie Symposium because of the league lockout.

The NFLPA event won’t be the first occasion this year that players have visited the IMG facility. More than 20 NFL athletes, both rookies and veterans, have trained at IMG Academies since the lockout began, including No. 1 overall draft pick Cam Newton.

Trevor Moawad, director of the IMG Performance Institute at IMG Academies, said IMG Academies saw this as an opportunity to host a large group of elite athletes and help them with the tools to be well-rounded professional athletes.

Although all the details of the event’s schedule were not worked out as of last week, a number of experts are expected to talk to the rookies about matters such as security, financial planning, media training and nutrition.

Moawad said the presenters would be from IMG as well as other companies. Atallah said active players will also speak.

NFL player agent Drew Rosenhaus, in a text message, said, “It’s a great move by the NFLPA and all of my rookie clients will be there.”

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