Longtime Colts’ athletic trainer helps implement safety protocols

Indianapolis Colts

INDIANAPOLIS – The NFL may not have one big bubble like the NBA, but it hopes it’s created 32 mini-bubbles across the league.

Head athletic trainer Dave Hammer’s been in charge of the Colts’ effort to build a safe zone against the coronavirus at the team’s headquarters as its infection control officer.

He’s helped implement a tier system for those allowed around the team. Tier 1 and 2 are allowed in the restricted areas. Tier 1 is players, coaches, trainers and equipment managers. Tier 2 is staff who interact with players on a limited basis. Tier 3 has to avoid contact with the first two tiers. Tier 1 and 2 are limited to 100 non-players.

People in the restricted areas wear proximity tracers that record when a person is within six feet of another and for how long. The data is saved. If there is a positive test, the team will know exactly who came in contact with that person.

“We’ve got a lot of buy-in,” Hammer told Matt Taylor and Colts.com. “We have a lot of good people that work here. They understand what’s important and it’s not just football that’s important. We’re talking about family, friends, other people that you work with here in the building. It’s important to everybody and we all need to just kind of buy into the process and do what we’re supposed to do.”

Hammer and dozens of staff members made sure everything in the complex was distanced, so meeting rooms have been rearranged. Plexiglass has been installed between players’ lockers.

Hallways are one way only, so big groups do not cross paths. They’ve added extra help in the cafeteria to change the way food is prepared and distributed.

“I can’t say enough good things about what Dave has done leading the charge in everything that we have to get done here,” general manager Chris Ballard said. “Dave is thorough. He’s always trying to think of better ways to do things. He’s put together a strong team that’s going to help us be the best that we can be in this area and keep our players healthy and safe.”

Hammer’s been with the Colts for almost 40 years going back to the franchise’s time in Baltimore. His first training camp with the team was in 1981 at Goucher College. Taylor asked how challenging this one has been.

“I’d say on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the most difficult one you’ve ever had, this has got to rank up around a 20 or so. This has been really challenging.”

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