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In-Depth Look: NFL Athletic Trainers Breaking Barriers and Making History

This year, Super Bowl LVII made history as it was the first to feature two Black female Athletic Trainers (ATs) on opposing sidelines. The Philadelphia Eagles Shaniece Jackson, DAT, LAT, ATC, CES, PES, OPE-C and the Kansas City Chiefs Tiffany Morton, MS, LAT, ATC are breaking barriers and serving as role models in the athletic training profession. Both Jackson and Morton took the time to share their perspectives in a recent Q&A.


Shaniece Jackson, DAT, LAT, ATC, CES, PES, OPE-C

Philadelphia Eagles Assistant Athletic Trainer

Describe your typical day:

Off season, the day typically starts around 8 a.m. where we prepare for our athletes that are rehabbing to come in. We complete our rehabs and finish up any documentation, supply ordering and maintenance of the athletic training facility.

In season, the day starts with treatments and rehabs prior to the athletes having meetings. We set up for walk

through and practice prior to the athletes getting done with meetings. After walk through, athletes are able to

come back into the athletic training facility pre-practice for another round of treatment and rehab, if needed, along with any taping or anything they may need. We then go out to practice and will have another round of treatment in the afternoon prior to afternoon meetings for the athletes. The athletic training facility then is open for athletes to stop in for any other care they may need before heading home for the day.

What do you like about your position/What motivates you in your role?

What I enjoy most about my position is seeing the growth in our athletes on and off the field. We have the chance to see them battle adversity through injury throughout the season, and it’s extremely rewarding to see them overcome those injuries to get back on the field to play the sport they love.

What is the impact of your current role?

I assist our head AT/vice president of sports medicine in providing care of our athletes and do our best to help them stay healthy. The ultimate goal is to have our athletes play every game of the season to the best of their ability.

What is your greatest achievement as an Athletic Trainer?

My greatest achievements as an AT thus far include graduating with my doctorate in athletic training as well as

working in my dream setting and job.

What advice do you have about your practice setting for a new AT looking at this setting?

My advice for other young professionals looking to work in the National Football League (NFL) would be to take

advantage of opportunities you’re presented, which may include a summer internship or immersion clinical rotation. It’s important to make good impressions, show passion in the work you do and display your interest in learning.

Tell us about your Super Bowl experience and what it means to your personal career and the role of ATs in the

profession?

It was a blessing to be able to experience the Super Bowl so early on in my career and do so with the best medical staff. Along with the Super Bowl, I also had the chance to experience and be a part of a team that won the NFC Championship. Although it was not the outcome we had hoped for, it is still such an honor to be a part of a small population of ATs who have been able to experience working in the Superbowl. I also am thankful to have served as an example and role model to minority women who were able to see both myself and Kansas City Chiefs assistant AT Tiffany Morton on the biggest stage in the NFL. I hope that seeing us there showed minority women that they can be in the same position one day and to keep chasing their dreams.


Tiffany Morton, MS, LAT, ATC

Kansas City Chiefs Assistant Athletic Trainer

Describe your typical day:

In season, there is a flow to the week. We know what each Monday, Tuesday and so on looks like. This creates some predictability in what can be chaos. For instance, I know every Wednesday I will get in about 6 a.m. and report to my desk to get ready for the day. I review any reminders from yesterday and update and confirm any goals.

At 7 a.m., treatments start. We get athletes rolling with manual therapy, modalities, mobility and begin rehab. The team meeting is at 9 a.m. then position meetings. During that time, I catch up on administrative work, pack my trunk for game day, focus on self-enrichment with an article and review resumes for future internships.

Sometimes we have an athlete on injury reserve who is not attending meetings. His rehab will proceed as it is a great time for one-on-one treatment. We then ease into walk throughs for the team, then corrective exercise or lifts. Anyone who is on treatment will report for some practice prep work and any bracing needs before practice. We also do light prophylactic taping for non-injury athletes.

Practice is my favorite time because it combines everything related to athletic training, such as preventative care with taping, nutrition and hydration, rehab for athletes in return to play (RTP) phases, acute care for new injuries, quick evaluations for RTP prospects and of course the prep of the team is fun to watch.

After practice on Wednesday, we have injured athletes see our doctors to review how practice went, if there are any concerns and what other aspects of care can be added. I have meetings with the athletes, which is when I prep for any hydration needs. Then, we finish any rehabs and care we have left before the athletes leave. Of course, the job isn’t done! I write up new rehabs for tomorrow, catch up on admin that wasn’t completed and set up potential interviews with future interns. Dinner time and time to head home is about 7 p.m.

What do you like about your position/What motivates you in your role?

The people are always what motivates me. We all have a common goal of winning a championship but it’s the people, the athletes who have this immense dedication to their craft that you just have to emulate. Seeing how hard they work makes you want to help them succeed.

What is the impact of your current role?

I’d like to think I give back to the profession in that I make myself accessible for future ATs. Every so often, I reach out to one who I know we aren’t considering and give some advice on how they could improve for the future. Being human is so important in this space not just for other ATs but also our athletes. They see us at their most vulnerable. They need to know we will give our all to help them, so I hope our impact is felt every time we have the blessing to return an athlete to the field.

What is your greatest achievement as an Athletic Trainer?

The steps I have taken to be where I am weren’t easy and I never take it for granted. Getting to this position allowed me to achieve my dream which in turn allowed me to help others to show representation of women in a male dominated sport and black women in the field. I hope my greatest achievement is yet to come though. I hope 10 years from now that my current goals of furthering the field and creating learning opportunities is met, and my answer will be advancing several ATs in the profession that just needed some guidance.

What advice do you have about your practice setting for a new AT looking at this setting?

Know what you are getting into. Take the steps to learn about collegiate football. Learn how this setting is different and how ATs manage it. Professional sports will not likely have work/life balance compared to other AT settings. Professional sports isn’t about 9-5 because our athletes aren’t 9-5. Our coaches and peers have to match that dedication. That’s not just how we spend time here. The constant need to be better for our organization because that is what everyone is trying to do. Be ready to match the intensity. Be ready to learn

every day. Be ready to be uncomfortable. Be ready to have an experience unmatched by anything else.

Tell us about your Super Bowl experience and what it means to your personal career and the role of ATs in the

profession?

Every single person in the Chiefs organization works hard day in and out to support this team. We exhaust all options to give our athletes the best chance to be their best selves, and we do it with pride, and love. We are so proud of our work and so proud of them. To see it all come together in a win is the perfect end to a phenomenal season. Personally, it is the same for my family. My family is my support system and to be able to share a win is the highlight of Super Bowl.

This article was originally published in the 2023 summer “Cert Update” newsletter.

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