The Kansas City Chiefs announced on Thursday that the club has promoted Rick Burkholder to Vice President of Sports Medicine and Performance. Burkholder previously held the title of Head Athletic Trainer with the club from 2013-17. In his new role, he will continue to oversee the Athletic Training staff and will add the team's Strength and Conditioning and Equipment departments to his responsibilities.
"Player health and safety has always been a priority for us, and as our head athletic trainer, Rick has been at the forefront of leading that charge, not just for our team, but at the league level as well," Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid said. "He's done an outstanding job, and this move will really help unify those efforts to make sure the best interests of our players remain the focus."
"I'm grateful and excited for this opportunity," Burkholder said. "I'd like to thank the Hunt family, Coach Reid, Brett Veach and Mark Donovan for putting the trust in me to lead our efforts in player health and safety. We are committed to providing our players the best healthcare services in the National Football League, and bringing our strength and conditioning staff as well as the equipment department together with our athletic training staff will make us stronger in those efforts."
Burkholder enters his sixth season with the Chiefs in 2018 and his 26th year in the National Football League. He began his NFL career as a summer intern with the New England Patriots in 1986. After stints at the University of Arizona and the University of Pittsburgh he returned to the NFL, joining the Pittsburgh Steelers training staff from 1994-98. He received his first head athletic training job from Coach Reid and the Eagles in 1999. Having spent 19 years with Reid, including 14 in Philadelphia (1999-2012), Burkholder became well known for his expertise in his rehabilitation programs. He and his staff were recognized by their peers following the 2010 season, being named the NFL's top training staff for the year.
On Feb. 19, 2014, Burkholder received one of the highest honors in his profession as he was elected to a three-year term as President of the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS), which serves the players of the NFL, the member clubs and other members of the community, while ensuring the highest quality of health care provided to the NFL. During his term, he focused on two specific initiatives – emphasizing the need for gender equality among the NFL's athletic trainers, as well as the importance of athletic trainers at youth and high school levels.
Burkholder has been very proactive in sports medicine, emphasizing programs that prevent and combat dehydration, asthma and lower back injuries. In Philadelphia, he was instrumental in injury prevention by modifying the team's stretching program and instituting a torso-strengthening program known as "back school." He is a certified athletic trainer and a member of the National Athletic Trainers Association, the Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers Society, in addition to his membership in PFATS. In 2016, Burkholder was inducted into the Pennsylvania Athletic Training Hall of Fame. In back to back years, Burkholder received prestigious awards for his work in the field, earning the National Athletic Trainers' Association's Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award (2016), and became just the second person and first athletic trainer to receive the NATA's President's Award, honoring his contribution to the profession (2017).
The Carlisle, Pennsylvania, native, graduated from Pittsburgh in 1987 and earned his Master's from Arizona in 1989. He and his wife, Kristine, have two daughters, Quinn Taylor and Carly Ann.