The NFLPA Rookie Premiere is taking place this weekend in Los Angeles where more than 40 rookies come together and get a weekend of exposure to what the business of being a professional football player is all about. Over the next few days we will be posting experiences and interviews from the event. Make sure to check back for updates.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The NFLPA Rookie Premiere has grown into a way to expose and educate rookies to the business side of football. The weekend long conference is hosted by the players association and has multiple partners attending including Panini, Fanatics, EA, and Nike to work, promote, and prepare members of the upcoming rookie class for the business side of their life in the NFL.
The Rookie Premiere has been going on for 22 years now and originally was designed to help partners capture rookies in their new jerseys for trading cards and memorabilia. Now things have changed, “We’ve added a bunch of other goals over the years to include an orientation about the business and the union, and we cast this as their first business trip,” said Ahmad Nassar, President at NFL Players Inc. — the for-profit subsidiary of the NFLPA. Essentially the NFLPA has set to educate and work with the players as well as expose its brands and partners to the new incoming talent.
The good news for the NFLPI and NFLPA is that players are much more educated in their personal brand and the business of sports. Players are taking more classes while in college, as well as educating themselves to get the most out of their playing career. The expansion of the business of sports on the internet has helped as well according to Nassar, “By the time we see them, players have heard a lot about the business of sports. Fields of Green covers a niche, but there’s still readership. Darren Rovell has a million Twitter followers. The players have been exposed now more than in the past.”
The constant theme that the NFLPA wants its players to understand is that they should get more from football than football gets out of them. That could be leveraging their brands through their Snapchat like Antonio Brown of the Steelers or through appearances on other media entities like Von Miller and Dancing with the Stars. Being able to show players that if they can leverage their personalities and skill set they can and will succeed outside of football is key. Nassar brought up the recent story of Patrick Willis and his job at a tech start up as an example. “He retired on his own terms and he is setting himself up for the next 40 years of his life, but he started that planning before he thought about retiring from the game of football.”
The Rookie Premiere continues to grow. Every year the NFLPA tries to expose more companies to more players. Now with the NFL doing away with its own Rookie Symposium this is the best time for players to learn about the business and meet with branding partners. That is necessary because after the weekend the players are back to the field and will have a different focus, but for now its about learning all they can about the business of football.
Michael Colangelo is Managing Editor of The Fields of Green and Assistant Director at the USC Sports Business Institute.