Tim Bream (Bears). Hunter Smith (Colts) (no, not the punter.) Bobby Slater (Bears). Dave Hammer (Colts). Gary Misamore (Colts). Erin Barill (Colts).
Even the most die-hard fan of the Colts or Bears probably couldn't identify these names. Yet it's clear that these people -- the head athletic trainers, the assistant trainers, the team doctors and physical therapists -- had as much a hand in making sure that the Bears and Colts made it this far as some of the players did. Their names are listed in little more than the fine print of the team program and some of these medics are paid less than some of the practice squad players. But both teams owe their medical staffs more than a passing nod.
The fact is that both teams excelled at all three phases of injury management -- selecting for health, preventing injuries, and returning players from injury in a timely manner. By working in tandem with their coaching staffs and their respective front offices, one of these staffs will earn Super Bowl rings this weekend and the other, well, its lack of a ring is all it will lack. Around the league, fellow trainers and doctors raved about the work that the Colts and Bears staff performed this year. Let's take a quick look at some of the key injury moments for each team: