There is little question that teams consider the medical part of the Scouting combine the most important. So it always makes sense to me that PFATS — the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society — gives out awards to their members during this week. A few years ago, it was Jim “Machine” Shearer. Then there was an alumni award for longtime Cardinals athletic trainer John Omohundro.
This week, Jeff Herndon (right in the picture below, along with head athletic trainer Tom Reed) received the same award as Machine had: The Tim Davey NFC assistant trainer of the year award (Shearer had actually won the NFC’s initial award in 2011.) Herndon has been with the Cardinals full-time since 1986, making 2017 his 32nd season with the club. As with all those guys downstairs who toil in virtual anonymity, Herndon isn’t going to crow about his honor, but he’s deserving — one of the best in the business. He has to be, really, to have lasted 32 seasons.
Tags: Jeff Herndon, Jim Shearer, John Omohundro, PFATS
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Tonight, Machine says goodbye. It only makes sense to say goodbye to him.
Machine is Jim Shearer, the long-time assistant athletic trainer for the Cardinals. And when I say long-time, I mean long — this is his 40th year with the franchise. But that’s coming to an end. Shearer is working the game for the Cardinals against the Seahawks. Friday, Shearer will be retired. I went to go ask Machine if I could get an interview, you know, just to write up a little story.
Just a couple questions?
I expected as much. The last thing Machine is ever looking for is attention. So I decided to get a couple quotes from someone who has spent a decade around Machine: Larry Fitzgerald.
“I’m going to miss him personally,” Fitzgerald said. “I spent a lot of time with Machine as a rookie. I sprained my ankle in my first game in the preseason, and essentially, we spent every day together for three weeks. That’s how the relationship started, which turned into a friendship. I love Machine. He’s a special human being, as is his wife, unbelievable family. I am happy he is going to be able to retire and enjoy his kids and wife and be able to travel. But he’s going to be sorely missed. I’m going to miss joking with him and shooting the (stuff) with him in the training room too.”
I asked Fitz if Machine ever gave him grief. Aside from his job, Machine was always really good with that.
“If Machine is giving you (grief), that means he cares about you. He likes you,” Fitzgerald said. “If he doesn’t talk to you, that means he doesn’t have any love for you at all. I’ve seen that too. He’s always busting my stones every since I got here.”
I can second that. (Oh how I wish I could relay my best Machine anecdote on that subject. Alas, I cannot.) Machine is the best, and not having him around is definitely going to change the vibe. Good luck in the next part of your life, Machine.
Oh, the nickname Machine? It has to do with his expertise at taping players. The story behind Shearer’s nickname is right here.
Tags: Jim Shearer, Larry Fitzgerald
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“Machine,” in fact, had a real name.
It was a while before I had learned it, though, since Cardinals assistant athletic trainer Jim Shearer never goes by anything but Machine, his nickname that might as well be his given name. He’s been around the Cards for a long, long time, with this past season his 37th on the team’s training staff. He’s a fixture, having been on the field for 745 games since 1974. He’s that guy who plays the crusty veteran, but beneath the thin facade is a good person (I remember him welcoming me to my job here when I transitioned from newspaper beat guy to in-house web reporter).
As for the “official” story on how Machine became Machine (at least as told to me): Bowling on a team in St. Louis with Busch Stadium grounds crew personnel, Shearer was playing so well one night his teammates started saying he was a machine. Anytime they’d stop by the training room, they’d say things like, “Hey, it’s The Machine.” Players would hear, and as Shearer would start taping them quickly and effortlessly for practice or a game, a player would say, “He is a machine.” And the nickname stuck.
The Pro Football Athletic Trainers Society, which holds meetings at the Scouting combine every year, decided to create an award to recognize an assistant trainer in both the AFC and NFC in the name of former NFL executive and long-time NFL trainer Tim Davey, who passed away unexpectedly in 2010.
Machine was the first honoree for the NFC last week in Indianapolis.
“Every organization has people behind the scenes that quietly do their jobs with excellence day after day, year after year,” Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill said in a statement. “Machine is a perfect example of that type of individual and it’s wonderful to see his work is not only recognized here at the Cardinals but by his peers across the National Football League as well.”
I wandered down to the locker room this morning to congratulate Machine and to needle him about not having a quote in the press release. He said media relations staff hadn’t asked. And even if they had asked, he said, he would have told them … well, let’s just say he would have declined.
Tags: Jim Shearer
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