Rookie diary: No excuses

Posted Jul 2, 2009

Michael Johnson

RELATED: Day 1 Diary: Rookies in class | Day 2 Diary: Rookie diary: Assets and facets | Day 3 Diary: Rookie diary: History lesson

Posted: 8:30 p.m.

Michael Johnson, our man on the ground at the NFL Rookies Symposium in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., gives his final report from the conference that began Sunday night and ended Wednesday.

Johnson is now back spending his time between Atlanta and Alabama, but he took one thing home with him from Florida.

"Whatever you do," he said, "take care of your body. Treat it like a temple. Stay in shape. You take care of your body and it will take care of you. That's really the only thing I'm thinking about right now. Be right for training camp."

Camp starts in four weeks and former NFL receiver Cris Carter sent the rookies off Wednesday with a message a little bit different than the others. While many panelists talked about representing the NFL shield, Johnson said Carter emphasized, "In the end, the bottom line is you're representing yourself and that you've got a responsibility to you and your family."

Johnson has understood that for a long time and the symposium was a good place to get it reinforced. And all subjects were broached. From sexually transmitted diseases ("The pictures were pretty graphic," he says) to personal security.

"They did talk about Sean Taylor," Johnson said of the Redskins safety killed by an intruder a few years ago. "They told us that he didn't have his alarm system turned on and that's something that we've got to do. I've had guns growing up in Alabama for hunting. But if I got a gun to protect myself, I'd learn the proper way to use it and register it."

Johnson said he had no problem with Carter upbraiding a rookie for falling asleep during his talk.

"Absolutely not," he said. "The guy is taking his time to come in and talk to us and a guy falls asleep? We're there to learn from the guy. We (his teammates) were watching out for each other. We were making sure that wouldn't happen to one of us."

But he admitted there was so much on the plate during the week that some of the speakers ran together. When it came to recalling the final panel discussion, he admitted, "To tell you the truth, I can't remember who the guys were."

But that's OK. He took notes in the symposium's playbook.

Johnson admitted he could see a rookie getting into trouble despite the extensive education because "we're human, it happens." He had to laugh when he paused and said, "But I'd be surprised if somebody got in trouble in the next couple of weeks."

All kidding aside, he could only make one conclusion after closing the book.

"There shouldn't be any excuses for messing up," he said, "They kept repeating, 'Choices, decisions, consequences.' There wasn't so much that there was a lot of stuff covered. But there was a lot of repetition and there's nothing wrong with that."



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