Lions' Alex Carter links up with father at symposium

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Berea, Ohio — Cornerback Alex Carter is having a different experience at the NFL Rookie Symposium than most of the 250-plus players in attendance.

The Lions' third-round pick's father, Tom Carter, is in Ohio helping the rookies get acclimated to life in the NFL, so after some of the seminars, Alex Carter can bounce ideas off his father.

Tom Carter played nine years in the NFL after being a first-round pick by Washington and is a player advocate for the NFL Players Association.

"I forgot he was even going to be here until like two days ago," Alex Carter said Friday. "It's cool just having him here. He's always been a great mentor for me and a friend now even more."

At the orientation, the 256 draft picks hear from several former and current players who share both success and horror stories to help keep the rookies on track. In addition to hearing speakers at a conference center in Aurora, Ohio and leading a Play 60 event at Browns headquarters in Berea, the players take a trip to Canton to see the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Among the former players who spoke this week — with AFC rookies attending Sunday through Wednesday and NFC rookies Wednesday through Saturday — were Cris Carter, Warrick Dunn, Eddie George and Donte Stallworth. Giants general manager Jerry Reese addressed the NFC rookies, and Hall of Famers Curtin Martin and Anthony Munoz were set to conduct sessions in Canton.

For many of the rookies, former NBA player Chris Herren's tale was the most influential as he explained his battle with drug addiction.

"It was truly a heartfelt speech and it just got to me," first-round pick Laken Tomlinson said. "I went back to my room last night and I just thought about it all night. It made me realize how fragile an NFL pro athlete or any pro athlete's lifestyle can be, how easily you can throw it all away."

For Carter, it wasn't weird having his father around, but he thinks it might have been strange for his dad after years of dealing with other players during the symposium. Carter said he even attended the orientation program with his father years ago.

Lions senior director of player development Galen Duncan, who escorted players to the events this week, said he's jealous of Carter's relationship with his father after losing his dad when he was 19.

"I would love to have what he has," Duncan said. "I told him to take advantage of every moment. I know you're going to get sick of hearing him talk to you, but, man, listen, one day he's not going to be here and you're going to wish you had."

And even though Carter is surely first in line, at least one other Lions rookie said he might use Tom Carter as a resource down the road.

"Obviously, I'm going to try to use the resource now that he's on my team, and I was happy to see that him and his son have such a great relationship and they pretty much get to start this journey together," running back Ameer Abdullah said.