Long-time head athletic trainer Steve “Greek” Antonopulos will no longer be running onto the field whenever a Denver Bronco player goes down with an injury.
But the guy who has been with the team for more than four decades is still going to be a major part of the franchise - and the health of its players.
Handing off his daily athletic trainer duties to Vince Garcia, Greek will promote to director of sports medicine for the team.
“I’ve been living a dream for the last 41 years while I’ve worked for the Denver Broncos,” Greek said, adding it is an honor to work for Pat Bowlen, Joe Ellis and John Elway. “I’m grateful for this new opportunity and am really looking forward to working with Vince, our players and coaches, and the rest of our very talented medical staff.”
A graduate of the University of Northern Colorado with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree, Greek has been with the team since 1976, serving as the head athletic trainer for the past 37 years - the most in NFL history with a single team.
861 players have appeared in reg-season/playoff game for Broncos since '76, Greek's 1st yr. Arriving daily at 4 am, he treated all of them. pic.twitter.com/Mh6RHNlhm1— Patrick Smyth (@psmyth12) April 12, 2017
Greek has worked nearly 900 Broncos games in his more than four decades with the team. He has been part of 27 winning seasons, 22 playoff berths, 15 AFC West titles, 10 AFC Championship Games, eight Super Bowls and three World Championships.
“Greek’s been a cornerstone of the Denver Broncos for more than four decades, and we’re excited to have him move up a level to become our director of sports medicine,” said Elway in honoring the man who helped take care of him as a player. “There’s nothing more important than the health of our players...We’re in good hands with Greek overseeing our sports medicine program and Vince becoming our head athletic trainer.”
Garcia, who is in his seventh year with the team, spent five seasons (2010-13, ’16) as assistant athletic trainer for the Broncos after serving as an athletic training intern in 2008. Garcia has a bachelor’s degree form UNC and a master’s from Oregon State.
Greek was named the Fain-Cain Memorial Award recipient in 2011, an annual award given to an NFL trainer who best exemplifies a long-term commitment to the league as well as exemplary performance.
He also received numerous other honors throughout his career, including the NFL/PFATS Athletic Training Staff of the Year Award (1987), the National Athletic Trainers Association Athletic Trainer Service Award (1996) and the NATA Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award (2006).
More importantly, Greek has earned the trust and gratitude from hundreds of players who have come through Dove Valley.
When DeMarcus Ware came to the Broncos in 2014, he was just coming off surgery for an elbow injury. One of the first things he noticed about Denver was how well it takes care of a player’s health.
“That’s one thing the Denver Broncos do really well; they take care of their players,” Ware said in May 2014. “They have a lot of well-rounded people that know exactly what they’re doing to really speed up the recovery part of everything.”
Back in 2005, Greek did a Q&A with fans about his job as the Broncos’ head trainer. One asked him the toughest part and most satisfying part of his work.
“The hardest part is to make them believe they are going to be OK again,” Greek said then, adding that it is devastating to players to get injured and the mental aspect for them is very important. “The most gratifying aspect is to see these players return to the field and play again and the relationships you develop along the way.”