“Each team had about 10 players that they were responsible for, so 320 total players,” Sugarman said. “And when I say we were responsible for them, we had a several-step process for each of these players.”
Step 1: A general Zoom call with a prospect and an NFL athletic trainer of the team assigned to him.
“It’s 1-on-1 with me and the athlete,” Sugarman said. “I talked to the athlete about his medical history and took notes, listened to what he said. I had a certain list of questions I asked the guy about timing of surgery, stuff like that.”
Step 2: Sugarman would then call the athletic trainers at the players’ schools to get clearer pictures on prospects.
“I took that information, and once I had the proper authorization and permission, I called the athletic trainer of that athlete,” Sugarman said. “I discussed the athlete with the athletic trainer, who has the medical file — again, with the athlete’s permission.
“It’s different because the athlete tends to forget some things that happen,” Sugarman added. “You blend those, and now I have a very good picture of the history.”
Step 3: Another Zoom call with Sugarman and the prospect, but this time they are joined by a pair of Vikings team physicians — an orthopedic surgeon and a Vikings primary care physician.
“We did a virtual health physical with the athlete and decided if they needed MRIs or an X-ray, and then we could order those,” Sugarman said. “If they were coming to Indy, they did it there.
“If they were not selected to come to Indy, Jeff Foster and Audrey Schafer of the National Invitational Camp organized appointments in the area where they lived. They all were scheduled for EKGs and lab studies to be done at a location in their hometown,” Sugarman added. “It was very complicated, but very well-done and very structured. At the end of the day, we were very happy with how it turned out.”
The detailed reports from Sugarman and Minnesota’s staff were then uploaded to a website where it was accessible to all 32 teams.
But what if the Vikings wanted extra information on a player who was assigned to, say, the Packers? Could Minnesota sidestep Green Bay and contact said player?
“We shared and collaborated on all of that information this year … all 32 clubs working in lock-step to get this medical information to help each other,” Sugarman said.