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Browns heed Symposium's messages

Posted Jun 25, 2013

BEREA-- Browns rookies Barkevious Mingo and Leon McFadden have taken to heart the messages from the 2013 NFL Rookie Symposium.

BEREA -- During the NFL’s annual Rookie Symposium, which is taking place in Northeast Ohio this week, the league brings in current and former players, as well as other speakers to mentor each of the draft picks on the importance of making good choices on and off the field.

According to Browns rookie defensive lineman Barkevious Mingo, former Boston College basketball star and NBA player Chris Herren made the biggest impact. Herren’s basketball career and personal life unraveled when he fell into addiction.

“Chris Herren was a guy that lost a lot, nearly lost his family from the choices that he made, and he was sitting in the same seat that we were, saying that it wasn’t going to be him,” Mingo said. “He was a guy that didn’t listen. He challenged everybody that was in the room. Everybody paid attention to what he had to say because it was real. He was a guy that said it wasn’t going to happen to him, he wasn’t going to get addicted to drugs, he’s not going to spend his money on this, he’s not going to do that, but he did. Everybody listened to that and it made them pay more attention to the events and speakers that we did have.”

Mingo was impacted by Herren’s story about addiction and recovery because the former basketball star from Fall River, Mass., was in a similar position to Mingo and the other NFL rookies when he was first-year NBA player with the Denver Nuggets in 1999.

“Everybody thinks ‘I’m not going to do this; I’m not going to do that,’ but he made you realize that it can happen to you if you choose the wrong decisions,” Mingo said. “For him, it was a $20 pill, and that damaged his life tremendously. A $20 pill when he was 18 changed his life. He went from that pill to a different drug, and from that drug to a different drug. This event doomed his life, but he’s recovered from it and he’s better for that.

“It’s just been very informative about career choices and career paths that people have chosen in the past and us being able to take what we can from it and apply it to our careers. I think it’s going to be for the betterment of us as young players.”

Browns defensive back Leon McFadden felt the Symposium is an important event because it emphasizes “being smart,” and is a change from the football drills and meetings that he went through during organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp practices.

“This Symposium is giving us a chance to transition from the college level to the NFL and worry about things that are outside of football, as far as when you’re out, how to carry yourself as a pro and know that there’s always somebody watching,” McFadden said.

“Everybody’s going to have fun, but be smart about it. You’ve got to have a plan when you’re out in public. If you decide to drink, you’ve got to have a whole plan of how you’re going to get home. We have the biggest rate of DUIs in the offseason, and the rookies, that’s where they said a lot of them get in trouble. The Symposium is trying to harp on making that right decision.”

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