In-Depth Look: Athletic Trainer and Sports Medicine Analyst for NBC Sports
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Mike Ryan, PT, ATC is an Athletic Trainer (AT)/Physical Therapist who works as a Sports Medicine Analyst on the sidelines for NBC Sports’ Sunday Night Football.
Describe your setting:
I work on the sideline as a Sports Medicine Analyst for NBC Sports’ Sunday Night Football games. During the week, I research injury histories for both Sunday Night Football teams. During the game, I work with our broadcast team to provide them with accurate in-game injury updates and simplified terminology to describe the injuries for our viewers.
How long have you been practicing as an AT?
I became a BOC Certified Athletic Trainer in January of 1985 between semesters during my senior year in the athletic training program at Central Connecticut State University. I was returning to the New York Giants as a summer intern in 1985 and didn’t want my certification exam to interfere with my childhood career plan of becoming an National Football League (NFL) AT. I spent 26 full seasons in the NFL and served as Assistant Athletic Trainer/Physical Therapist for the New York Giants for 6 seasons. In 1994, I became the Head Athletic Trainer/Physical Therapist of the Jacksonville Jaguars. My staff and I won the Ed Block Courage Award’s NFL Athletic Training Staff of the Year in 2003.
During my career, I’ve had a lot of great opportunities including serving as President (14 years) of Research & Education Foundation for the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society along with being the recipient of the 2008 Southeast Athletic Trainers’ Association’s Professional Athletic Trainer of the Year award and the Athletic Trainers’ Association of Florida’s 2007 Athletic Trainer of the Year. I’ve served as Chairman of the NFL Collegiate Athletic Trainers’ Committee and a member of the NFL Foot and Ankle Committee. I’ve been a member of the Sports Concussion Medical Advisory Board and Korey Stringer Institute Medical and Science Advisory Board. I also served as an advisor and co-author of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s Position Statement on Lightning Safety for Athletics and Recreation.
Describe your typical day:
During the week, my daily routine starts with a 4:30am workout followed by private physical therapy sessions with high level, professional athletes. I then research NFL injuries, wellness consulting projects and sports medicine writing/blogging.
During the NFL weekends, I depart to the city of the Sunday Night Football game on Saturday morning. We have meetings Saturday and Sunday with the game on Sunday night. During the past 2 seasons, I also worked Thursday Night Football games as well. For those additional 9 weeks, I would hit the road on Wednesday and return on Mondays after the Sunday Night Football games.
In addition, I record 1 to 3 sports medicine videos for various social media platforms during the week and/or on game day. Practicing broadcasting drills, mock interviews and on-camera reps is part of my daily routine.
What do you like about your position?
I enjoy continuing to learn how to best manage sports injuries and the best ways to educate others about those injuries in simple-to-understand terms. Sports medicine isn’t a job for me, it’s my passion. I feel so fortunate to be able to blend my passion and skillsets into a career.
What advice do you have about your practice setting for a young AT looking at this setting?
Get your professional experience first. Having the insight of examining 1,000 ankles, 900 knees, 800 shoulders, 700 low backs, 600 hands, 500 hamstrings, 400 Achilles, 300 elbows, 200 groins and 100 concussion examinations is an education not found inside a textbook.
Get fit. There’s little room for personal injuries and sub-par endurance in any high-tempo athletic training setting.
Read and research the leaders in our industry. We can become old school in this profession in as little as 3 years if we stop learning. Don’t do that to yourself, your patients or your profession!