Now that minicamps throughout the league are concluding (there are some taking place this week), all of the rookies in the NFL will head to Northern Ohio for the annual NFL Rookie Symposium where they will hear from several speakers talk about a variety of concepts such as finances, the new life they are getting into as players in the NFL, and their off-the-field actions. Bengals CB Adam Jones was asked to be a speaker on a few panels for the symposium and jumped at the opportunity to help divert rookies away from the path that he chose when he was the sixth overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft.
"I was pathetic," Jones stated in a recent interview on Bengals.com. The history of "Pacman" Jones in the NFL tends to be the stuff of legend, an example detailing flawed character. If anyone is able to tell NFL rookies what they shouldn't be doing, it is Adam Jones. The story doesn't end here, though, because not only is Jones speaking to all NFL rookies, but rookie Dre Kirkpatrick, who will be attending the symposium next week, has the unique ability to take Jones' advice and pick his brain on a daily basis during the Bengals' practices.
"I haven't had anything negative from him," Kirkpatrick says. "He doesn't want to see me following in his footsteps. Just being around the wrong people. Surrounding myself with not a lot of positive people. Those are the things that he's been trying to tell me."
Kirkpatrick is one who, like Jones, is not unfamiliar with legal issues. Four months before the draft, Kirkpatrick was arrested, charged, and released on a marijuana possession charge -- which was later dismissed. Before this incident, he was regarded as one of the top two cornerbacks in the 2012 NFL draft as a top-10 or top-12 pick. Kirkpatrick admitted that he was in the car when the drugs were purchased, but he did not know it was a drug deal.
Lucky for Kirkpatrick, he had a number of people around him who helped him mature and kept him focused on the right path, namely Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban.
"At first people still don’t understand that you're a product of your environment; I'm still a product of my environment," Kirkpatrick says. "Sometimes for some people it takes them time to mature. Fortunately I had (Alabama coach Nick) Saban to be hard on me, to keep me focused, to keep me doing the right things. Those are some of the things I took. Obviously he didn't have that growing up."
The rookie symposium is one of the most important events for any rookie during their first year, and Kirkpatrick plans on hanging on Adam Jones' every word. Kirkpatrick has seen and heard, first-hand where making the wrong choices can put you, and Kirkpatrick and Jones want to make sure that doesn't happen. So, what is the most important thing Kirkpatrick is looking to glean from the rookie symposium?
"Just learning how to be a better pro..."