Damon Mitchell is entering his sixth season as the Chargers’ head athletic trainer and 24th season overall with the organization.
Legendary linebacker Junior Seau made his ninth consecutive Pro Bowl with the Chargers when Mitchell started as a seasonal intern in 1999.
“I was just talking to friends, remembering,” Mitchell said. “It’s really cool to say that, just to know that, he and I were friends. It’s unbelievable.”
Mitchell has developed several friendships with the players he’s cared for in the past two decades, including with Chargers greats Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates and LaDainian Tomlinson. But he likely wouldn’t have crossed paths with them if Morgan State University had a wrestling team.
When Mitchell found out the wrestling team was dropped, the university’s athletic trainer offered him an opportunity to work with him, prompting the beginning of his new career. Now Mitchell is doing the same by offering opportunities and helping increase diversity in the field, so medical students don’t have to stumble into sports medicine.
The Chargers are one of eight teams participating in the NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative, a new project that works with the four medical schools within the Historically Black College Universities – Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Howard University College of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine and Meharry Medical College – with the purpose of increasing diversity and interest in primary care sports medicine and/or orthopedic surgery.