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Buffalo Bills overhaul athletic training staff: Bud Carpenter, Shone Gipson leaving

A lot of change at the top.

Longtime Buffalo Bills athletic trainer Bud Carpenter has announced his retirement via a statement on the team’s website. On the same day, Sal Maiorana of the Democrat and Chronicle is reporting they are also firing Carpenter’s second in command, Shone Gipson.

Carpenter spent 33 years as the Bills athletic trainer and he and his staff won the Ed Block NFL Training Staff of the Year award in 2007 and 2014. That 2007 award was largely for their response to the injury to Kevin Everett, when the tight end suffered a spinal cord injury on kickoff coverage. The training and medical staffs were able to stabilize Everett on the field and he eventually regained the ability to walk in the process of his rehab.

“It was very serious out there,” Carpenter says of treating Everett. “Everybody had nice accolades for us, but what we did that day was what we were supposed to do. It was what we were trained to do. Ironically, nine days before that we had the ‘down athlete’ drill and we had all the ambulances and doctors out here practicing that scenario. That day with Everett, everybody did what they were supposed to do. The process worked.”

A native of Allegany, New York, in Cattaraugus County, Carpenter came back home after working with the Boston Bruins for his job with the Bills, according to the team’s statement. He took over as head athletic trainer when Ed Abramowski retired in 1996. He was appointed Director of Training Operations for the team in 2016, the job he held until his retirement today. He was inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in 2016.

“My understanding is that McDermott wants a fresh look in the training room,” tweeted Maiorana. “I don’t think Bud’s retirement was encouraged, but it seems to me McDermott was OK with it.”

In addition to Carpenter’s retirement, the Bills announced they were firing his head athletic trainer Shone Gipson. Gipson made the news recently in Aaron Williams’ retirement letter, where the player praised the trainer for his work helping him through the neck injury that ultimately ended his career.

“Thank you, Shone Gipson,” Williams wrote. “My guy. We’ve worked together. We’ve battled back together. We’ve cried together, man. We’re there for each other for life. I appreciate you more than you’ll ever know.”

Athletic trainers are the point persons for all the medical issues players deal with, from maintaining healthy players to helping injured players recuperate. That’s most visible on the field on game days when they tend to newly-injured players but it continues all week with rehab and preventative maintenance. Trainers schedule surgeries, schedule rehab and physical therapy, and they also gather and relay the medical information to the team on draft prospects.

The Bills have not announced replacements at this time.