Football’s in the air. It has a way of making sports seem legitimate again. The buzz of training camp and how “my team” will do this season has dominated social conversations and social media this week.
For me, the excitement for another NFL season is here but for very different reasons.
The year was 1987 and I was a junior in physical therapy school at UConn. That was the last summer I didn’t spend in an NFL training camp up to now. I had spent the previous 3 summers, starting in 1984, as the New York Giants summer athletic trainer intern.
In contrast, I spent that 1987 summer working as a physical therapy intern for the Visiting Nurses of Hartford (CT) as part of my physical therapy school requirements. After 3 summers of living out my childhood dream of working with an NFL team, I was cleaning bed pans, cleaning infected wounds and rehabilitating disabled elderly patients in housing projects. Career Plan: Get into the NFL…and FAST!
This past February I stepped down from my position as Head Athletic Trainer/Physical Therapist with the Jacksonville Jaguars to enjoy my important role as a father and husband. It wasn’t an easy decision after 26 seasons in the NFL but when I see the joy in my two young children and wife’s faces when we have breakfast together every day, I know it was the right decision for the right reasons.
The Jags have their first training camp practice today. I’m cheering for them to have a great season, as I always have. Something will never change. Sure, I’ll miss the guys, my staff, the laughs, the practical jokes, the rush of seeing players overcome injuries to get back on the field, the endless trays of food and, obviously, I’ll miss the energy of game day.
As for me professionally, exciting changes are here. I’ve created a new company, Mike Ryan Sports Medicine, Inc., to manage my new physical therapy clinic and consulting business along with other fun sports medicine projects. As for the details of those “other” endeavors, you’ll have to wait on that….
In the meantime, I’m thoroughly enjoying the change. Change in my schedule, change in my involvement with my family’s lives, change in my stress level, change in my workout routine (!!), and a healthy change in my professional challenges.
Change is good when the passion is enhanced. Mission accomplished.
Fun times are here and it’s only getting better!