Rookies Spend Week in Falcons University

Rookies Spend Week in Falcons University

Jay Adams

Published May 15, 2012 at 5:15 PM

There were probably more than a few rookies who showed up to Flowery Branch thinking their days of sitting in classrooms, being taught anything but football were over. The Falcons are the first team in the NFL this year to begin their orientation process, and it started Tuesday with the kickoff of what has been termed “Falcons University,” or “Falcons U.”

Falcons U is designed to provide and teach important life skills, both on and off the field, for rookies making the transition into the NFL. Throughout the three-day program, rookies will learn how to be successful, how to deal with that success and what they can do to keep a clean reputation off the field.

On Tuesday, the rookies gathered to hear a few inspirational words from Falcons owner and chairman Arthur Blank, who stressed the importance of giving back to the community and making the most of the opportunity they have in front of them to make someone else’s life better.

“We want to tell the community that we are engaged not just on Sundays, but Mondays-through-Saturdays, as well,” Blank told the rookies. “Without fans, we have two groups of 11 guys playing sandlot football. … Remember that when asked for autographs and photos.”

Blank shared the success stories of his life, from helping to found Home Depot to buying the Falcons, and also the mistakes he made along the way that helped him learn how to succeed.

DE Jonathan Massaquoi, a fifth-round pick by the Falcons out of Troy, spoke up to ask the Falcons owner and chairman what his personal motto has been throughout his life.

Blank responded: “There is no finish line.” Those words resonated with the 2012 Rookie Club.

“I plan on getting a lot of knowledge. I plan on getting a lot of good information to help not just along my rookie process, but through the long haul,” Massaquoi said after Tuesday’s sessions. “If the Lord blesses me to continue my career in the league for so many odd years, I’m going to take this on to my life skills. Hopefully, I can give this off to other people around me and they can feel the same positive effect I did.”

The rookies also heard from general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who spoke with them candidly about the opportunity they have in front of them. As one of the people who ultimately decides their future in Atlanta, he stressed the importance realizing what they have to do to make the roster.

Asked by tight end Aron White what he felt were the biggest mistakes rookies generally make, Dimitroff replied by saying they pass on the opportunity that’s presented to them, and added that the Falcons are looking to keep around players who embody the three P’s: Positivity, passion and perseverance.

“Everyone has the opportunity to make the best of their situation,” Dimitroff said. “Grasp it. Go big or go home.”

Dr. Earl Sutter, the chairman and CEO of Leadership Success International, got the positive energy going in the room later in the day as he presented rookies with tips and tricks on how to be mentally positive and make good decisions in their pro careers. An interactive and fun-filled hour, Sutter’s presentations got the rookies out of their seats for plenty of laughs and team building.

Click here to see a photo gallery from Dr. Sutter’s presentation

The rookies will learn more in the coming days about finance, the importance of credit and what social media can mean for them. We’ll have more on AtlantaFalcons.com and on Twitter @Atlanta_Falcons.

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