Gridiron partnership: Packers help pay for athletic trainers to be at MPS football games

MILWAUKEE -- The Green Bay Packers awarded a $20,000 NFL Matching Grant to Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) to provide a certified athletic trainer on the sidelines of each football game in the district.

Funded through the NFL Club Matching Certified Athletic Trainer Grant Program, the grant provides coverage through Midwest Orthopedic Sports Medicine, and will ensure an athletic trainer at 106 total games and scheduled practice visits throughout the season. As a result of the grant, more than 800 high school football players between 14 MPS high schools will have access to an athletic trainer.

"We're banging bodies together. There's most likely is going to be two to three injuries a game," said Dr. Eric Pifel of Midwest Orthopedic Sports Medicine.

Returning to play too soon can have lasting consequences -- which is why properly trained medical personnel are so important to today's game.

"We have to have someone there to make sure when those symptoms of a concussion occur, that they're out of the game and treated appropriately," said Pifel.

For Milwaukee Public Schools' 14 football programs, this season just got a little safer.

"It's covering all of our trainers for freshman, JV, varsity football," said Bill Molbeck, MPS Commissioner of Athletics.

Previously, MPS did not have certified athletic trainers staffing football games. That's changed -- and the NFL and the Green Bay Packers are picking up the tab.

"We're going to be able to identify any of those injuries right away with someone that's actually trained to deal with athletic injuries," said Molbeck.

MPS will incorporate the cost of having athletic trainers present at each game into its budget plan for the 2017 season and moving forward.