One of the first athletic trainers in Cowboys history passed away at the age of 90 this week.
Don Cochren, who spent nearly 30 years with the Cowboys organization, was around for all five Super Bowl wins in some capacity, mostly as the head athletic trainer.
A second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, Cochren joined the Cowboys in 1965 as the co-athletic trainer for eight years, before having the title as head trainer until 1989. Cochren spent 1990-95 as a trainer/medical records coordinator for a six-year period that saw three more Super Bowl wins before officially retiring before the 1996 season.
Along the way, Cochren hired a couple of interns in the mid-1980's that proved to be two of the backbones of the Cowboys' medical staff for the next four decades, including half of the current staff.
Head athletic trainer Jim Maurer, and Britt Brown, the team's associate athletic trainer and director of rehabilitation, both got their start with the Cowboys because of the guy they all called, "Cocky."
"Yeah, Britt and I were student trainers back in 1986 together and Don gave us the opportunity to join the NFL in that capacity," said Maurer, who has been with the Cowboys for 33 seasons. "Obviously, it spurned us on to bigger and greater things."
Brown, a student at TCU when he got selected to be a season-long intern, said it was his time with Cochren that opened his eyes that being in the NFL was eventually the best path for him.
"At that point, I didn't think I'd ever be in the NFL," Brown said. "I thought I'd be a high school athletic trainer. But being around 'Cocky,' it woke me up that maybe this was something that I wanted to do."
Brown, who is finishing up his 30th season with the Cowboys, said Cochren was "ahead of his time" in some of his practices.
Maurer added that during those times of the 70s and 80s, many NFL players had other jobs in the offseason.
"Don was an athletic trainer and a physical therapist, which was very rare in those days," Maurer said. "Don, in the offseason, would travel to injured players. They worked real jobs. He went to them and made sure they got the proper rehab done to make sure they were ready for the next season. He was a little bit innovative there, but that's also how the Cowboys did things."
Cochren was the second athletic trainer in Cowboys history, a group that only includes 10 full-time trainers, with four on the current staff.
Cochren, survived by his wife Jan and son Chris, was an athletic trainer for the 1980 USA Olympic team. He was honored as a distinguished alumni from Purdue in 1992.
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