INDIANAPOLIS – The combine is a time and place where many different groups convene for annual visits. The NFL trainers are no exception and a key member of the Cowboys’ training staff took home some hardware this weekend.
Britt Brown, an associate trainer and director of rehabilitation, was named NFC assistant trainer of the year, an award that was started a few years ago by Cowboys head athletic trainer Jim Maurer, who remains on the committee.
While this past season was arguably one of Brown’s busiest of his career as the Cowboys lost so many players to injuries throughout the year, this award was more reflective of Brown’s overall body of work – on and off the field and inside and outside of the training room.
Brown currently serves as the program coordinator for the NFL/Professional Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS) Ethnic Minority Scholarship.
“It’s really a good deal,” said Brown, who has 21 years of NFL experience, including the last 17 with the Cowboys. “They look at what you do for our organization. I’ve been in charge of the Ethnic Minority Scholarship for student trainers since 1995. We give $32,000 in scholarships to 32 individual student trainers. It’s a good program. There are probably 15 trainers in the league right now that have come through that program.”
While Brown is involved in the ultimate team sport of football, he said this award is no different as he gave high praise to Maurer and Greg Gaither, as well has Hanson Yang and all of the team doctors who have been a big part of the athletic trainers and overall medical team.
“It’s a staff thing, I feel like,” Brown said. “Jim is great for me and Greg both. We really have a great staff. For me to win that - there are so many guys out there that deserve that award and it could’ve easily gone to Greg, too. It’s a tribute to Jim and Greg.”
This award comes 10 years after the Cowboys’ staff, which included Maurer, Brown and Gaither, won the NFL athletic training staff of the year.
Brown credits Maurer for allowing him to have a major role within the athletic staff, despite not being the “head guy” of the department, although Brown is the director of rehab.
“Jim lets me do the rehabs and ‘Return to Play.’ I like that because I get to control when guys come back and when they shouldn’t. I enjoy that part of it,” Brown said. “The league has so many things nowadays they have the head trainers doing, paperwork wise. Not only the concussion situation but the drug program stuff. He has a lot of stuff he has to do with the league and the team itself.”
Brown’s role means he is often the one staff member who works directly with injured players during their rehab process. At times, that grueling process can create an interesting dynamic but one that usually ends with mutual respect.
“It’s a Love-Hate relationship,” Brown said. “I think ultimately they feel like I’m taking care of them. I’ve got their best interest. Whether they like it or not, they have to go through me to get back to practice. If I’m not looking out for them and requiring them to prove to me they’re OK, then they just get thrown back out there. Guys know that in order to go back out to practice, you have to look good for me. You have to show me you can do it.”
And because of that and much more hard work over the years, his peers showed Brown he’s obviously doing his job rather well, too.