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Rookies rekindle youthful spirit at clinic

Posted Jun 25, 2013

BEREA -- The AFC’s rookies were in Berea on Tuesday for an NFL Play 60 Youth Football Clinic as part of the league’s annual Rookie Symposium.

BEREA -- One-hundred fifty Cleveland-area children got the opportunity to attend an NFL Play 60 Youth Football Clinic at the Cleveland Browns’ Berea training facility, and the AFC’s rookie draft class served as the guest instructors.

The AFC rookies took part in the clinic as part of the NFL’s annual Rookie Symposium.

“It means a lot, especially for the Browns’ guys,” Browns outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo said. “This is our third time getting to interact with Cleveland-area kids, and we just enjoy doing it.”

Defensive back Leon McFadden added, “When I was younger and went to attend camps like this, I said, ‘This is what I want to do. When I’m in the NFL, I want to get involved with the community, get involved with playing with kids and let them know to come out here and have fun.’”

The 2013 NFL Rookie Symposium marks the second consecutive year in which the league’s drafted rookies came to Northeast Ohio for a week of speeches and presentations about being professionals and avoiding the pitfalls and distractions that come with the opportunity to play in the NFL, as well as the importance of giving back to the community.

“It’s an amazing opportunity,” said Chris Draft, NFL Ambassador and Transition Coach. “All these kids, they’re going to remember this for the rest of their lives, but the rookies are going to remember this for the rest of their lives too. They came out here to the Rookie Symposium, and we talked about going to another level, being a pro, having people look up to you from all over, and then, they come out here and see the kids and it reminds them that this is real.”

Matt Yunker, the Browns’ manager of youth football, called Tuesday’s NFL Play 60 Youth Football Clinic “a unique experience” for the participants and the rookies.

“The autographs are cool and the pictures are cool, but I hope the kids remember the experience that they had with the rookies,” Yunker said. “I hope this is a good introduction for the rookies as they go to their respective teams and look back to what was likely their first experience working with a group of kids and realize the importance of giving back to the community.

“It’s hard to tell whose having more fun. It’s really neat to see that the level of excitement is just as high for the rookies as it is these kids. That means they’re having fun and they’re out there for the right reasons. That means the kids are getting a great experience.”