Chiefs Put Own Stamp on New "Rookie Transition Program"

For first time ever, Chiefs create their own program for drafted and undrafted rookies

Back in April, the NFL announced a change to the rookie symposium that had existed in place for the last 19 years.

Before, the symposium, which was designed to help rookies successfully transition to the pros, was only open to drafted rookies. A new format, called the "rookie transition" program, would effectively change that.

According to the official release from the NFL, "the new format gives clubs the opportunity to customize the orientation program to align with the history and culture of their team, including the use of former players to foster and promote mentoring relationships between incoming rookies and club legends."

"The rookie transition program is really the culmination of three different programs," Kirsten Krug, the vice president of administration for the Chiefs, said. "We started with a rookie orientation program, the rookie symposium and the rookie success program. The transition program is all of these programs combined now."

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The Chiefs took advantage of the club legend aspect to the new plan by utilizing the already established Chiefs Ambassador program.

"I don't think you can put a price on the Ambassadors," Krug added. "They're amazing role models. I think they're amazing role models in terms of their time on the field. I think they're amazing in terms of what they've done outside of the field and off the field. I think it's great for our rookies to learn that you can have a career outside of football.

"You can be an impact to your community. You can have traditions that you can continue on for the club; it's just an amazing opportunity for our rookies to learn about what these men have done with their lives off the field."

The newly personalized rookie transition program began on Wednesday, June 22 when 17 drafted and undrafted Chiefs rookies arrived at the University of Kansas Hospital Training Complex.

On Wednesday and Thursday, rookies attended a series of informational seminars, including sessions on NFL benefits, money management, budgeting, domestic violence and sexual assault, character and values and more.

The program ran through Friday, when players learned about rule changes, toured the Hall of Honor for the first time and even sat down for an Ambassador panel featuring Anthony Davis, Bill Maas and Pro Football Hall of Famers Jan Stenerud and Bobby Bell.

"I talked to them about making the right decisions and putting the right people around them," Bell said. "We've got an organization here that they need to talk to, or have a problem or something, talk to somebody and ask the questions so we can help them out."

Chiefs second-round draft pick Chris Jones appreciated hearing from the Ambassadors.

"It's great," he said. "Those guys are legends. You get to hear their take on what their mentality was when they played and how they approached the game, and you kind of can steal their mentality and bring it to your own game. There's a lot to learn from those guys."

The Kansas City Chiefs rookies held a Play60 event at Arrowhead Stadium on Friday, June 24, 2016.

The program wrapped up with a Play60 event hosting children from the Police Athletic League of Kansas City. "When you're a Kansas City Chiefs player, it's about more than just what you do on game days," director of community outreach Chuck Castellano explained. "That's why we wanted to make sure that when these guys are here, they're learning about a Kansas City Chiefs tradition and what that means. It's a part of our legacy. It's one of those core values that we have here."

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