“Increasing diversity across every role in our league and at our clubs is essential. Diversity makes us stronger,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a written statement. “We have an opportunity to help increase the pipeline of diverse sports medicine professionals, which is imperative for us as a league. This initiative is an example of how we can lend our platform for a societal benefit. I’m proud that our league can help inspire the next generation of sports medicine professionals.”
The participating HBCUs are Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Howard University College of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Meharry Medical College. Medical students who may be interested in primary care sports medicine and/or orthopedic surgery will be chosen by their respective schools to complete one-month clinical rotations with NFL clubs throughout the upcoming 2022 NFL season. Sixteen students will participate in this first season, with two students each of the following eight NFL clubs: Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans, and Washington Commanders. The program will grow in 2023 as it will expand to recruit students from other schools and medical disciplines. They will then place those students with medical staff at additional NFL teams.
Students participating in this initiative will work directly with the orthopedic team physicians, primary care team physicians, and athletic trainers of the NFL teams. They will gain basic medical knowledge and see how work in sports medicine happens. By the time they complete the program, the students should be able to understand the basic elements of all facets of care provided to NFL players from an orthopedic, primary care sports medicine, and athletic training perspective.