In a $13 billion industry that hinges its success on the health and fitness of its players, certified athletic trainers play a critical role in the NFL. Reggie Scott, director of sports medicine and performance with the Los Angeles Rams, understands the serious responsibility placed on ATs more than most. He’s spent the majority of his career working as an AT with the NFL – first with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, then the Carolina Panthers and the Rams starting in 2010.
Scott oversees the athletic training department for the Rams, managing and facilitating the medical care of the players through daily evaluation, treatment, rehabilitation, prevention and education.
We sat down with Scott recently to find out what it’s like being an AT in the NFL…
Q: What does a day in the life of an athletic trainer/director of sports medicine and performance with the Los Angeles Rams look like?
A: Day in and day out, we’re responsible for managing the healthcare of professional athletes in the NFL. Our goal is to provide the optimum environment for care, so that they’re healthy and ready to perform at a high level throughout the season.
My staff and I work with players seven days a week, and treat everything from head colds to ACL tears, neck injuries and so on. We also spend a lot of time rehabilitating athletes after they’ve had surgeries and are in their most vulnerable state emotionally, mentally and physically.
We develop treatment plans and administer one-on-one rehabilitation to get them from point A to B, and finally back onto the playing field where they want to be. We have great relationships with the team, and they’re very appreciative of the care we provide because it’s instrumental in extending their careers.
Q: The Rams just recently moved back to Los Angeles after a long stint in St. Louis, Missouri. Missouri law, unlike California law, requires that athletic trainers be licensed before providing services to athletes and the physically active. Do you think it’s important for California to also require licensure for athletic trainers, and if so, why?
A: Missouri and every other state in the nation – except California – understand the importance of regulating the athletic training profession because without proper education, there’s no way to ensure individuals acting as athletic trainers are qualified for the job.
In California, there are cracks in the system because people can potentially work out of their scope of practice. Athletic trainers encounter multiple situations that can be catastrophic, since they’re dealing with life and death, and the careers of professional athletes. For all of these reasons, it’s critical that the profession is regulated to mitigate unnecessary tragic damages.
Q: There’s been a lot of talk around concussions and injuries in the NFL recently. What are some of the steps being taken by your team to help ensure the safety of your players?
A: The league as a whole has done a great job of addressing this issue by providing the best management care for concussions I’ve seen to-date. It starts with the NFL’s Head, Spine and Neck Committee which is constantly researching and enhancing league-wide best practices to help ensure comprehensive care. From there, clubs are educated on the committee’s medical advancements and equipped with the most innovative assessment tools to monitor our players’ neurocognitive health by comparing baseline results with post-play data. These tools are coupled with extensive return-to-play requirements that must be met before a player is allowed back on the field. Through this continual dialogue, the league, team physicians and athletic trainers are continually working to improve detection and treatment by investing in research and implementing research-based best practices.
Q: What’s your favorite part of the job?
A: My favorite part of the job is definitely the relationships I’ve formed with the players and my staff. I love people and my job really lets me get to know individuals personally; it’s so rewarding to help them succeed on all levels – mind, body and spirit.