- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 24, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The NFL has canceled next month’s rookie symposium, the first league event called off because of the lockout.

League spokesman Greg Aiello said Tuesday the decision was made because of “the uncertainty of the labor issues we are facing and the logistical challenges of conducting the symposium.”

“The symposium is a large, complex event involving many professionals and others,” he added. “In fairness, we could not continue to keep their commitment on hold.”

The symposium, which was to begin in Canton, Ohio, on June 26, instructs rookies in money management and life skills and allows them to meet current and former players.

Teams and their draftees have not been allowed to communicate since the NFL gained a stay in court upholding the lockout. The league’s appeal of an injunction lifting it will be heard in U.S. District Court on June 3.

“Obviously I’m disappointed because I think the symposium is a valuable learning and bonding experience,” player agent David Canter said. One of his clients, linebacker Doug Hogue, was drafted by Detroit.

“Canceling the symposium is part of the issue related to the inability of the owners to put forth a deal that can get done in time so we can get back to football and the business of football,” Canter said. “It’s all very upsetting and sad for all parties involved.”

Agent Ben Dogra, who along with partner Tom Condon represents five first-round draft choices this year, didn’t expect the symposium to take place.

“The truth is, how can you cancel an event that isn’t supposed to happen anyway since there is a lockout,” Dogra said. “The NFL is closed for business. Thus, to hold a rookie symposium wouldn’t make any logical sense.”

Falcons first-round pick Julio Jones was unmoved by the cancellation of the symposium.

“I’m just really ready to play some football, but this is out of our hands,” the former Alabama wide receiver said while working out in Buford, Ga. “The only thing we can do is just continue to get better.”

Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain was asked how much the rookie symposium benefited him last year after he was a first-round selection, also from the Crimson Tide.

“I mean they try to give you an understanding of what it’s like to be a rookie, but a lot of that off-the-field stuff, that’s just common sense,” McClain said. “Stay out of trouble. That’s it. “

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