Alma Mater: West Chester University
Hometown: Hazelton, PA
Eric Sugarman enters his 22nd NFL season in 2018 and his 13th with the Vikings as the Director of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer. Sugarman has been part of 8 Division championship teams since 2000 and 10 playoff teams.
Sugarman and his staff were recognized by their peers as the NFL’s Athletic Training Staff of the Year for 2017 in an event held in conjunction with the annual Ed Block Courage Award gala, the highest honor for an NFL athletic training staff.
During his tenure with the Vikings, Sugarman and his staff have been instrumental in helping several players return from severe injuries by creating or enhancing rehabilitation protocols. During the 2012 offseason, Sugarman and his staff worked with RB Adrian Peterson on his remarkable comeback from a severe knee injury in late December 2011. Peterson returned to action for the 2012 season opener and went on to exceed all outside expectations by rushing for 2,097 yards, the 2nd-best season in NFL his-tory, and earning NFL Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year honors in the NFL along with 1st-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl recognition.
Sugarman’s staff has overseen many complicated and unique rehab protocols including those of LBs Chad Greenway, Heath Farwell and E.J. Henderson, who each suffered season-ending injuries in their careers but returned to earn Pro Bowl berths.
With the Vikings, Sugarman oversees the recognition, immediate care and rehabilitation of all injuries sustained. He and his staff implement and maintain proactive treatment and rehabilitation programs. Sugarman also oversees the Vikings nutrition program, where he works closely with the team chef and nutritionist. As the Vikings move into Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center for the 2018 season, Sugarman and staff were integrally involved in the design of athletic training facilities and the equipment in the state-of-the-art area.
The Vikings athletic training staff has broad-based experience in athletic training and has trained un-der some of the most respected professionals in their field. The staff prides itself on being proactive while using the most current evidence-based concepts, modalities and principles. All the athletic training staff members are Performance Enhancement and Corrective Exercise Specialists credentialed through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. The Vikings staff has been trained in the Advanced Graston technique, a patented form of instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization that works to effectively break down scar tissue and fascial restrictions. The staff takes courses each off-season which have included myofascial release techniques, Kinesio Taping and most recently Blood Flow Restriction therapy. Sug-arman has worked closely in the past with the Nike SSP team. This has allowed for the implementation of new sports vision training concepts. Sugarman also has a strong working relationship with Starkey Hearing of Eden Prairie, allowing him to bring state-of-the-art hearing enhancement and ear protection to the team and staff.
Sugarman spent the 1997-99 seasons with the Chicago Bears and the 2000-05 campaigns with Phila-delphia. Sugarman got his first taste of the NFL as a summer intern for the Bears’ athletic training staff from 1993-95.
Sugarman earned his bachelor’s degree in health and physical education with an emphasis in athletic training from West Chester University and went on to earn his master’s degree in sports management at the University of Richmond. During his tenure at Richmond, Sugarman served as the graduate assis-tant athletic trainer for the Spiders football team and head athletic trainer for the Spiders’ baseball squad. In 1994-95, Sugarman served as assistant athletic trainer at West Chester and worked as an instructor at the school. In 1996 Sugarman served as an athletic trainer in the Chicago Cubs organiza-tion.
Sugarman joined the Bears as an assistant trainer from 1997-99 before moving to the Eagles in a sim-ilar role in 2000. The Eagles were noted for progressive rehab programs. That athletic training staff played an integral part in helping Terrell Owens return from ankle surgery during the regular season in time for Super Bowl XXXIX.
Sugarman is an active member of the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society. He currently sits on the Advisory Board of Orthology and is a member of the Twin Cities Dunkers Club. Sugarman is also an American Heart Association Basic Life Support, AED and First Aid certified instructor. In 2003 he received the PFATS’ “Big Heart” award for saving the life of a fellow Eagles employee by performing CPR. In 2010, Sugarman and former Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress were co-winners of the Ameri-can Optometric Association’s Eagle Award and in 2009 ESPN Magazine recognized him as the NFL’s Most Irreplaceable Athletic Trainer. In 2011, Sugarman was inducted into the Hazleton, PA Area Sports Hall of Fame. In 2013, the Vikings staff was recognized with the Excellence in Aquatics Award by Hy-droWorx in honor of their progressive use of aquatic therapy.
In 2014, Sugarman helped to implement a program to provide certified athletic trainers for football players in 13 public Minneapolis and St. Paul high schools, servicing over 600 players for practices and games. The program, in partnership with Twin Cities Orthopedics and Tria Orthopaedic Center and with funding help from the Vikings and the National Football League Foundation, will help to ensure the safety and welfare of young players. Sugarman and his staff were awarded the Minnesota Athletic Trainers’ Association Sports Medicine Enhancement Award for 2016 during the MATA Annual Meeting and Clini-cal Symposium for their role played in expanding access to certified athletic trainers for athletes at Min-neapolis and St. Paul public high schools.
Sugarman and his wife, Heather, reside in Chanhassen, MN, with their sons, Jake and Ben.