BEREA — Outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo spent Tuesday morning on the Browns practice field working with kids as part of the NFL Rookie Symposium’s Play 60 event.
The next time Mingo steps foot on that field, he’ll be participating in his first training camp.
“I am ready,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to it, being able to come out here, put the pads on for the first time and actually, I guess, measure up to the older guys and see where I am and see what I have to do to get better.
“It’s a chance to put on pads, get out here with the old vets and just swap it up. As football players, as competitors, that’s what we want to do, we want to go out there and compete and put our best foot forward and head to the season.”
Mingo (6-foot-4) isn’t concerned about his weight, which some consider to be too light for the rigors of the NFL. He said he still weighs 237 and will report to camp at “240-ish.”
The collective bargaining agreement signed in 2011 removes much of the suspense of rookie contracts getting signed and the chances for a holdout. But the Browns and Mingo’s agent could battle over an offset clause that would allow the team to recoup some of its money if Mingo was cut before the end of the deal and signed elsewhere.
“They’re working on it,” Mingo said of the contract. “It hasn’t gotten finished yet. But hopefully it will get done soon.”
Much of the discussion regarding the symposium was on talks given by people who saw their careers derailed by bad choices. Mingo focused on the opposite end of the spectrum.
“Take those good examples of the guys who’ve done it the right way,” he said. “They’ve had a bunch of guys that shared their story that are doing it right. They haven’t messed up, they’re just on the right path. I want to try to emulate that and prolong my NFL career.”
Jim Brown cancels
Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown, who recently rejoined the Browns as a special adviser, canceled his appearance today at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was scheduled to talk to the AFC rookies about NFL history.
The NFL announced Brown, 77, wouldn’t attend because of an illness.
He’s been traveling a lot lately, is fatigued and the problem isn’t believed to be serious.
Hall of Famer Mike Haynes will take Brown’s place. Richard Dent will talk to the NFC rookies on Saturday.
Close to home
Colts guard Hugh Thornton was grateful the NFL decided to return to the Cleveland area for the symposium. He spent a year at Oberlin High and earned his degree before heading to the University of Illinois.
“Being able to give back is unbelievable,” he said of the Play 60 event. “They ask, ‘Where you from?’ I say, ‘Right down the road.’
“It’s fortunate for me the symposium is in Cleveland and I’m able to give back to the community here in Greater Cleveland and Lorain. It’s been fun, man.”
The symposium ends today and Thornton will stick around to spend time with family and friends and attend a wedding.
He will join the rest of the AFC rookies at the Hall of Fame today.
“I never went. I’m excited,” he said. “You get to walk in the midst of some of the greats and relive history. The NFL has such a rich history of not only great players, but great people and great mentors. It’s going to be an honor to go there and talk to staff, and go with these guys, this rookie class, who are striving to be at that level.”
Thornton said the most powerful of the symposium’s seminars was one on manhood.
“Breaking the stereotypes of masculinity, pop culture and society today that’s demeaning toward women,” he said. “Learning how to be a real man in the midst of society today. It was a great message and I learned a lot from that. It was great.”
Thornton, who has “H” tattooed on his left calf and “T” on his right, was a third-round pick of the Colts, No. 86 overall. He said he had a good offseason of workouts and has been working with the second team at right guard. He could challenge for a starting role.
“Obviously it’s up to me and up to how I play and how I perform, but it’s an executive decision,” he said. “I’m just there to help the team. So whatever they want to do with me, I’m there to help them get better and chase that Lombardi (Trophy).”
Indianapolis’ front office and coaching staff raved about Thornton on draft night and were delighted he was still available.
“That’d make anybody feel good,” he said. “Now that’s a standard I have to meet and exceed in my time there in Indy. That’s what I’m working for. I’m working to exceed their expectations and limits and it’s going to be fun.”
Chargers linebacker Manti Te’o could be a future speaker at the symposium. He knows what his advice would be after the media storm that engulfed his life at the end of his Notre Dame career.
“Just keep your circle small,” he said. “Just always be aware that there are people out there to help you and there are people out there who might not want to help you. If anything, just be yourself and you should be fine.
“Listen to your parents and they will never lead you astray.”
Kids at heart
Many of the rookies seemed to genuinely enjoy working/playing with the kids. Each team’s draft picks ran a drill station and interacted with several small groups of kids.
“It’s awesome, man,” Jets quarterback Geno Smith said. “It’s always a tremendous opportunity to come out here and share laughter and have a good time with these kids.”
The Steelers rookies instructed the kids to spike the ball and scream when they reached the end zone. One boy took it a step further with a double backflip and a girl did a touchdown dance.
“It’s a great opportunity to see the kids enjoy the time, make their day and I love playing with kids,” Jones said.
The Browns named Zak Gilbert director of communications. He replaces Neal Gulkis, the former vice president of media relations.
Gilbert was director of media relations for the Raiders in 2012 and worked for Colorado State from 2007-12.
“We are thrilled to add someone with Zak’s skills and background to lead our communications department,” Browns CEO Joe Banner said. “He brings nearly 20 years of expertise on both the collegiate and professional level. We are happy to welcome him to the Browns organization.”
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