Dr. Alan Sokoloff–founder of the Yalich Clinic in Glen Burnie–will be joining the Baltimore Ravens on their trip to New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII for almost a week's worth of practice and events surrounding the annual spectacle.
Sokoloff–who is known by patients and coworkers as "Dr. Sok"–has been with the team since 1999. He is one of the few people within the organization, alongside middle linebacker Ray Lewis, who remembers the last time the Ravens were in the Super Bowl.
Patch sat down with Sokoloff this week and asked him a few questions about his expectations for working with the Ravens in their pursuit of another Lombardi Trophy.
Glen Burnie Patch: What goes on in the week leading up to the Super Bowl?
Dr. Sokoloff: We're leaving from Owings Mills and going to Baltimore for a ceremony and then we're going to the airport. There are certain obligations you have to meet for the NFL. We'll get down early afternoon into New Orleans. From there we have mandatory meetings about security and certain obligations for the players. For me, we start treatments right away on Monday night. As the week goes on, I will be working in the morning and then again at night for treatment hours.
GBP: How many of the players are you treating?
Dr. Sok: On the average day, when we're working at the facility, we can see 20 to 25 guys. On game day, prior to the game, we can work on anywhere from 25 to 35 guys. It doesn't mean that many people are hurt. A lot of what we do is performance enhancement–it makes a big difference if you can make a joint that's moving "okay" and get it to move great. It could mean the difference in a tenth of a second in speed, which lends itself to separation for a receiver or helps a running back get through a hole. Generally, if you win, people don't hurt as much. If you lose, there's a lot of soreness that you need to work with. But after the Super Bowl, especially if you win, we don't treat anybody. It's a pretty happy time.
GBP: How has the team been able to overcome the numerous injuries they have sustained–from Terrell Suggs' torn achilles tendon to Ray Lewis' torn triceps?
Dr. Sok: From my standpoint, one of the best things about the Ravens organization is its medical staff, because we all communicate, and there are no egos. We do what's best for the player, but it's all discussed among each other. So we worked to collectively help many of the players who many in the public thought would never be back. There are very few teams that have the communication among the staff that the Baltimore Ravens have.
GBP: What is your family doing for the big game?
Dr. Sok: Unfortunately, with the Super Bowl being in New Orleans at the same time as Mardi Gras, it has made it very difficult for fans, friends and family of players to even get there. But on a personal note, I was unable to get my father to that first Super Bowl. Every year after that, I got him to every playoff game, because I'm like, "Dad, this could be the year." A couple times, my parents sat through the cold of Pittsburgh in that AFC Championship game, they sat through the cold of New England, they sat through losing to Manning in Indianapolis. So I just took them everywhere, because I didn't know when he would get a chance to see a Super Bowl. This is the year–the highlight for me is that my parents will be at that game. Now, I have two young children who–because of school and Mardi Gras–will not be able to make it. But as my nine-year-old daughter said to me, "Dad, I'm young, I'll have a chance to go to another one."
GBP: What has been one of your most rewarding treatment experiences with the Ravens?
Dr. Sok: Someone I spent a lot of time with was Matt Stover. He beat the odds and kicked for so many years. He's the only person that I know from this Ravens franchise who could leave here, go play for the Colts and play against them, but still be welcomed back here in Baltimore. Matt was very in-tune with his body and knew what he needed, so he helped me learn while I helped him get better and stay better. People don't get to see the people side of these players. They forget these guys are people. They don't live at the training facility–they have to go home, they have to cut their grass, they have to take out the trash. So, yes we take care of the injuries on the field, but it's also a lot of the little things that you don't see.
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