The NFL Rookie Symposium, which kicked off Sunday at the Bertram Hotel in Aurora, is a well-meaning, well-run orientation program that does its best to introduce incoming NFL draft picks to the realities of their new profession.

This has nothing to do with playbooks, zone-read option offenses or 3-4 defensive concepts.

Over four days, the 254-member draft class of 2013 – split into AFC and NFC groupings – will hear real-life stories from veteran players. They will sit in on panel discussions with topics such as “Transitioning to the NFL,” “Are You Bigger than the Game?” and “What Defines Success?”

The symposium focuses on four themes: history of the NFL, total wellness, the NFL experience, and professionalism.

Guest speakers at this 16th symposium – the second in a row held in Aurora – include a balance of squeaky-clean former players such as Chad Pennington, Desmond Howard and Brian Dawkins and problem players such as Adam “Pacman” Jones (repeated league suspensions and a recent assault charge) and Tank Johnson (two month jail term for probation violation).

“It’s about giving you the tools, the resources to win,” former NFL cornerback Troy Vincent, the NFL Senior Vice President of Player Engagement, said Sunday. “But the realities are it’s not always victories. There are challenges that come with it.

“The speakers are those who have walked in your shoes. We’ve learned through research that the peer-to-peer model is extremely effective. Adam spoke last year, and we had a great response. Adam’s authentic. Adam is still continuing to transition away from a lifestyle that hasn’t been very positive for him. We’re not giving up on Adam Jones, even after his last instance. What’s gonna happen to Adam beyond our control is going to happen. But I believe in this young man. Adam has a story to share and these men appreciate it. You’re not going to fool this group.”

It sounds all well and good. And then you have the experience of Josh Gordon.