While the veterans left Chargers Park last week for some rest and relaxation before the grind of training camp, the rookies stayed behind to take part in a key offseason program this week.
For years, each team's draft class visited Canton for the rookie symposium. Now, for the first time ever, all 32 teams will host their own Rookie Transition Program at their home facility.
Per the NFL, mandatory topics that must be covered include social responsibility, mental health, character, and many more valuable topics. The three day course is the culmination of an offseason program that also includes player health and safety, financial education, social media, playing rule changes from college to the pros and more.
"The NFL rebranded the symposium into the transition program to allow all the rookies to be included," explained Senior Director of Player Engagement Arthur Hightower, who was in charge of creating the itinerary. "This way we will have every rookie learn the tools that are important, not just a handful. In previous years Jahleel Addae and Branden Oliver didn't attend. There are many components to transitioning as a rookie that would have benefited them like all rookies, including financial responsibilities, knowing your player resources, mental health, NFL rules and policy, safety and so on. There are 15 different areas we felt mandatory in player engagement, and I saved eight of them for these three days."
Perhaps most importantly, the Bolts have customized their program to best suit their needs as a team and for each individual. It will be uniquely San Diego as former Chargers playing a key role include Shawne Merriman, Quentin Jammer, Akbar Gbaja-Biamila and Nick Hardwick.
"Inviting those players back are big as they were (important) Chargers," Hightower said. "They uniquely represent what the Chargers are about, and have close connections with the community, the team and the fans. Having Merriman come in for it is big for me because he was part of my first rookie class. Now to have him come back 11 years later is unique. Hearing from these guys help the rookies get a better sense of how the NFL is bigger than them. Few men ever get the chance to say they played football at the NFL level, so this helps give them tools for success."
Chargers.com will provide unique access and insight into the rookie transition program throughout the week.