Jan 29, 2015
Advice from a Veteran

By Patrick Bohn

While the NFL isn’t always known for career stability, in Jacksonville, there’s a notable exception. Head Athletic Trainer Mike Ryan, PT, ATC, PES, has been in his role since June 1, 1994, when the team began.

Celebrating his 25th year in the NFL, Ryan was recently profiled in an article about an injury to offensive lineman Luke Joeckel. In it, Ryan talks about how to approach an athlete who has just gone down on the field.
Ryan got his start in the New York Giants organization, first as an intern in three preseason camps in the mid 1980s, before moving to the position of assistant athletic trainer/physical therapist from 1988 to 1994. He then joined the Jaguars as Head Athletic Trainer/Physical Therapist, and remains one of just 10 people who have been with the franchise since its inception.

Recently, Ryan was profiled on jacksonville.com about treating offensive lineman Luke Joeckel after he suffered a high ankle fracture, and gave advice on handling an on-field injury. “In an emergency situation, the first pulse you need to take is your own,” he said. “You have to get yourself calm because if you’re not a smooth thinker, it will only make matters worse.”

Once he arrives on the scene of an injury, Ryan knows that calm demeanor is critical when talking with a player. “The first thing is stabilizing him,” he said. “The second thing is to comfort him and relax him and show that you’re in control and you’re there to help and give him peace of mind because as big and tough as these players are, they’re in an uncomfortable and vulnerable position and they’re scared. You’re the familiar face.”

The next step for Ryan is delegating care to an assistant, who would take Joeckel to the athletic training room. “It’s a little weird, but I trust my staff and I knew he was in great hands,” he told jacksonville.com. “You always know the show must go on and you still have [52] players to take care of. It’s not very often that I actually leave the field with a player.”

Off the field, Ryan remains active in the profession. He is President of the Professional Football Athletic Trainers’ Society Research & Education Foundation, a member of the Sports Concussion Medical Advisory Board, and on the Korey Stringer Institute Medical & Science Advisory Board. Last month, he also joined the Medical Advisory Board for Advocates for Injured Athletes, a non-profit group dedicated to supporting student-athletes.

Despite his numerous commitments, Ryan also has an active personal life. He maintains his own Web site, which contains information on injuries, and a sports medicine blog. He’s also a proponent of remaining fit. Ryan is a six-time inronman triathlete and has also run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain.

Patrick Bohn is an Assistant Editor at Training & Conditioning

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