An NFL Athletic Trainer’s Life During the Off-Season

It’s been 184 days or 6 months since the very first NFL pre-season game when the Chargers hosted the Seahawks on August 11, 2011.  Every week for the past 6 months we’ve had football every weekend ending with one of the most exciting Super Bowl games every played last weekend.

“….Are you ready to miss some football?”

You have to admit it: Coming off a very volatile off-season with “the lockout”, the NFL season proved to be exciting and considered to be a huge success on many levels.  Unfortunately, my Jacksonville Jaguars didn’t have the kind of season we hoped for.  Wait ’til you see us next year….

“What do you do for the next 6 months?”

It’s a common question NFL athletic trainers are asked after the conclusion of every NFL season.  The off-season is a busy time of the year with lots of professional projects on our To Do List.  The end of the season medical issues and the planning for the upcoming season makes for plenty to do during the winter and spring seasons around the country.  As we say in the NFL:  “We have two seasons in the NFL:  One with games and one without.”

Off-Season Projects for an NFL Athletic Training Staff

1.  Finalize end of the season documentation, reports, special tests & medical files.

2.  Complete the rehab of all injured players from the season and end of season surgeries.

3.  Prepare for the NFL Combine for screening potential new NFL players.

4.  Prepare for NFL Free Agency.

5.  Inventory and projected upgrades of medical supplies and equipment to improve all levels of medical care for your organizations.

6.  Medical screening and grading of all new players with team physicians.

7.  Attend multiple sports medicine seminars to maintain state and national medical licenses.

8.  Prepare for and cover all team Mini Camps, team practices, workouts and team functions to help prevent and treat all injuries.

9.  Educate medical staffs, players, football staffs, community youth athletes and anyone who will listen in an effort to help reduce injures and to enhance the health of others.

10.  TBD

Time to Recover

As an NFL athletic trainer and physical therapist, I’ve made a career of taking care of other people’s medical problems.  I love that about my profession and it’s very rewarding to me personally.  This time of the year is also a time for my staff and me to recover from working 7 days per week for over 6 months straight.  My 2 great assistant, Rod Scott & Justin Bland, and I have each had a grand total of two (2) days off since mid-July.

Needless to say, the off-season is an important time for all athletic trainers, team football staffs and players in the NFL to reunite with our devoted wives and children.  Our families deserve this break in the schedule for the loyal sacrifice they’ve made to us and our profession.

A Time of Change in Jacksonville

There is so much excitement in Jacksonville with the many changes within the Jaguars’ organization.  A new owner, a new head coach, about 15 new assistant coaches, a new attitude within the organization and a passionate community that deserves a winning football team at EverBank Field.

I’m thrilled to continue to be a member of the Jaguars’ family as I start my 25th season in the NFL.  I can tell you this:  It won’t take long to prove that these new changes will be making the Jags’ 2012 season something special!

An Inside Look at the NFL Combine

NFL Combine Workouts

With the NFL Combine medical exams and individual workouts starting tomorrow, there’s a lot of excitement in the air here in Indy.  The anticipation of seeing which elite athletes will put their athletic skills in the fast lane is thrilling for fans, the NFL teams and, obviously, the young football players themselves.

We’ve all seen the highlights of this year’s superstar college players during the fall season.  Now is their time to showcase their skills in an NFL setting under the watchful eyes of all 32 teams at the Combine.

What is “The Combine”?

Simply stated, the NFL Combine is a very organized and well-structured job interview.  It is an invitation-only event where approximately 420 of the country’s best college football players are invited to Indianapolis in an effort to launch a new career as a professional football player.

As Head Athletic Trainer/Physical Therapist for the Jacksonville Jaguars, my main responsibility at the Combine is to oversee our team’s medical department and to coordinate a comprehensive medical documentation of every player attending the six-day event.  How difficult can that be?

I’m very fortunate to have an outstanding staff of highly skilled doctors and certified athletic trainers on my team.  The process of compiling and interpreting extensive amounts of medical data at the Combine is very much a team efforts and, I’m proud to say, the Jags’ have a great medical team at this year’s annual event.

Besides the examinations themselves, we all work hard sorting through mountains of medical information from medical history reports, internal medical exams, orthopedic exams, MRI’s, lab reports, surgical reports, player’s feedback, rehabilitation documentation, x-rays, and any other medical information available to determine the present medical status of each player.

Following the medical exams, the players are busy with the many phases of the Combine process.  These include personal interviews, bench press testing, cognitive testing and the well publicized on-the-field workouts.  The field drills are position-specific and closely watched by all the league scouts, coaches and interested personnel.

In summary, this week’s NFL Combine is a wonderful opportunity for both the players and the teams to take huge strides towards a successful fall season.  I tip my hat to National Football Scouting and the NFL for the massive efforts put forth to make the event happen so efficiently.  The amount of time and organizational skills needed to coordinate this event is more than impressive.  Personally, I understand how vitally important this event is to the Jaguars’ future and I’m proud to represent my team and the league as we all look forward to the upcoming season.