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Hernandez the “pink elephant” at Symposium

Troy Vincent

Former NFL player, Troy Vincent speaks during a NFL Player Health and Safety press conference, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Doug Benc)

Associated Press

During the week of the NFL’s Rookie Symposium, where life lessons are taught to the incoming class of rookies, there hasn’t been a shortage of conversation.

But the conversation keeps coming back to one guy, Aaron Hernandez.

Troy Vincent, the NFL’s senior vice president of player engagement, said it’s a topic that’s impossible to avoid.

“You know, there’s this pink elephant in the room . . . the Hernandez situation,” Vincent told players, via Rick Maese of the Washington Post. “The media has every right to ask you a question about that situation. And you have every right not to engage in that conversation. It is what it is. ”

As part of the opening session for NFC rookies Wednesday night, a group of second-year players were on hand to tell the new guys about the transition. But the topic of Hernandez was never far away.

“A lot of people are afraid of the words, ‘Oh man, you different,’ ” Colts tight end Dwayne Allen said. “You damn right I’m different. You damn right I’m different. I got a lot more money in my pocket, and a lot more sense. That’s the way you got to go about it.

“If you just turn on your TV to ESPN, this is a brotherhood. This is a brotherhood. One of our brothers in trouble right now. It really hurts me, man. But one of our brothers is in trouble right now because he didn’t want to be different. You got to make a choice right now. . . .

“You’re not the same dude you was when you grew up. You different now. That doesn’t mean you can’t hang out with your boys, do things you used to do with your boys. You still do those, but you got to be smart about it, smart about your decisions, man.”

At that point the room of rookies fell silent.

With the Hernandez situation unfolding in front of them — along with former Browns linebacker Ausar Walcott being arrested for attempted murder and Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent going back to jail for failing drug tests while awaiting trial for killing a teammate in a drunk driving crash — the league doesn’t need many words.

They have examples, hopefully too many of them for the point to be missed.