For the first time in three decades, the Cincinnati Bengals are in the market for a new Head Athletic Trainer. Longtime leader of the training room is calling it a career, siting wanting to live a more “normal” life.
“I wanted to spend more time with my wife and kids,” Sparling says. “Thanksgivings and Christmases. I wanted to have more business-like hours.”
NFL schedules are historically hectic. We hear the stories of coaches sleeping at the office and players beating the sunrise to the weight room, but the same can be said for equipment staff and athletic trainers. After all, the players are the most important piece to a football team. Keeping them in shape for peak performance is no easy task.
Sparling taking over the role was a direct decision from team owner Mike Brown. Like many moves we’ve seen him make, his history with Sparling played a big role.
Sparling worked with former Head Trainer Marv Pollins for 12 years after coming to the team from Wilmington College. After a brief venture into a private business in 1991, a call from Brown was all it took to get Sparling back in the training room.
“I trust Paul Sparling. Implicitly, you’d have to say,” Brown said in 2020.
From taping the ankles of legendary quarterback Ken Anderson to assisting with the comebacks of Joe Burrow and Carson Palmer, the 63-year-old Sparling will have no shortage of stories to share with his family as he transitions into the next phase of his life.
Two seasons ago, Sparling won the Fain Cain Memorial Award, the award given to the top athletic trainer in the NFL.
After three decades of service, Sparling is one of the people to make an impact on the franchise it will be hard to replicate and one front office members will wish got to retire with at least one Super Bowl ring to his name.
No new Head Trainer has been named as of yet.