NFL Intern Article: Senior Bowl
My name is Shane Reilly and I am currently a seasonal intern with the Buffalo Bills. A year-long internship in the National Football League is something that I had thoughts about ever since beginning my education in athletic training in 2004. Making the choice join the Bills in this role has proven to be one of the best decisions I have made to this point in my life. Working with Head Athletic Trainer Bud Carpenter and his three assistants, Greg McMillen, Chris Fischetti, and Shone Gipson, within the unique working environment that they create has been an invaluable experience that I will be able to call on for the rest of my career.
One of the events that I was able to participate in as a member of the Bills was the 2011 Senior Bowl. This was a week-long college all-star event taking place in Mobile, AL and culminating with a game on January 29, 2011. Unfortunately, our staff was one of the NFL staffs chosen to participate in this game due to our less than desirable record in the 2010 season. Nevertheless, I chose to look at this event as a positive one and an opportunity to meet countless people from around the football world.
Once we were notified that our staff (coaches, athletic trainers, video personnel, etc.) would be responsible for the South Team in the 2011 Senior Bowl, it was determined that myself and Greg McMillen would be representing the Athletic Training Department, and the planning began. At first, it was difficult to predict exactly what we should bring with us, and how much. Because we would be working with over 50 college players from over 30 different teams, we wanted to be sure that we were equipped to meet the needs of many different players from many different backgrounds. This process was made much easier when we were contacted by Dean Kleinschmidt, Coordinator of Athletic Medicine for the Detroit Lions and Medical Director for the Senior Bowl. Dean was of great assistance to us throughout the entire process, beginning in the planning stages when he provided us with lists of what we should bring to Mobile and what would be provided to us once we arrived.
After all of the packing and preparation was finished, our supplies along with those from many other departments around the Bills Organization were loaded onto a truck on January 21, and sent to Mobile. We now had a little time to get our personal lives in order before boarding a plane on Sunday January 23 bound for Mobile.
Sunday was a busy day. We had an early morning flight and as soon as we landed, we hit the ground running. After quickly checking into the hotel, we were directed across the street to the convention center where player physicals were to be taking place from 12 noon-6pm. This was our chance to learn as much history as possible on each of our South Team players, which could be used as a resource later in the scouting process. Following physicals, Greg and I had a chance to set up our training room, a converted conference room where we would spend much of our time over the course of the week.
Monday was an interesting day. You could see a difference in many of the players’ demeanor as they began realizing that the pressure was on. Every available moment they had was spent studying their playbook, or answering questions from a scout. That afternoon, once meetings were finished and everyone was taped, the South Team boarded a bus for practice. Practice that day took place at a high school field in Fairhope, AL. It was impressive to see the number of people in attendance. I would guess to say that there were a few thousand people watching practice that day including fans, media, coaches, scouts, and agents.
Tuesday and Wednesday followed a similar pattern. Meetings took place in the morning, followed by taping and treatments and then practice. The difference that these two days presented compared to all the others was the intensity of practice. Our players were pushed to practice at a high level of speed and intensity just as they would be required to do during their future NFL careers. It was interesting to watch this process evolve and obvious that many of them had never been exposed to such an environment during practice before.
As Thursday arrived, the pressure on the players seemed to decrease. Many of the NFL coaches and scouts that were overwhelming the prospects throughout the week had now departed. Also, in preparation for the game on Saturday, the intensity of practice decreased slightly, but the speed was still demanded. As Friday approached, the atmosphere continued to lighten. With just a walkthrough remaining, and the game to follow on Saturday, the pressure of a good performance was still there, but you could tell that many of the prospects were having fun in the process.
It seemed that just as quickly as we had arrived, we were now tasked with packing up all of our supplies and equipment. Much of that was done on Saturday morning. It was then time for one final meeting with the team, a final round of taping, and departure for the stadium. We arrived at Ladd-Peebles Stadium to find a sellout crowd and a great atmosphere. It was well deserved for all of hard work that the players and staff members had invested throughout the week. Following the game, our equipment was loaded back onto a truck for the trip back to Buffalo.
Overall, the experience of the 2011 Senior Bowl was one that I will not soon forget and will be sure to draw on for a long time to come. Specifically, the scouting and testing aspects of the week provided environment that I had not directly been a part of before. It proved to be another of the many benefits that I have experienced throughout my time as a seasonal intern with the Buffalo Bills.