Bud Carpenter

Bills trainer Bud Carpenter (right), an Allegany native, checks on an injury to Buffalo safety Aaron Williams.

Craig Melvin/Buffalo Bills photo

Bud Carpenter is anything but a publicity hound.

The Buffalo Bills trainer, heading into his 31st season with the team,made that point seven years ago.

He and his crew were selected as the National Football League Athletic Training Staff of the Year, yet Carpenter stipulated he would talk about it to only one member of the media ... me. And the reason was simple, not that I’d known him since his hiring in 1985, but rather because the Times Herald is the newspaper of record for his hometown ... Allegany,N.Y.

BUT, AT AGE 63, the St. Bonaventure alumnus has relented a bit.

You see his staff was honored again this week, the Pro Football Athletic Trainers Society again naming it the National Football League Athletic Training Staff of the Year for 2014.

When Carpenter’s group first won the award, it focused on a specific event, the severe neck injury suffered by tight end Kevin Everett in a collision covering a kickoff against Denver in the season opener.

The Bills medical and training staff had practiced for handling a traumatic injury barely a week earlier and their quick response plus a controversial spinal procedure precluded Everett’s potential paralysis.

THIS TIME, the award, to be presented March 16 in Baltimore, is for a season’s worth of high performance.

The honor is voted on annually by NFL athletic trainers and has been awarded since 1985, recognizing a staff for its distinguished service to the club, community and athletic training profession.

Cited are Carpenter, who spent a season with the Boston Bruins and eight years as a trainer at SUNY Fredonia, which he also attended, plus assistant trainers Greg McMillen (19 years), Chris Fischetti (13), Shone Gipson (11) and newly-hired Jon Hernandez.

“Bud, Greg, Chris, Shone and Jon are among the most professional and highly-trained certified athletic trainers in the National Football League,” Bills General Manager Doug Whaley said. “Day-in and day-out they provide excellent support to our players and our football staff throughout the year. It is great to see them recognized for their excellence.”

CARPENTER was hired by legendary Bills’ trainer Eddie Abramoski, a member the team’s Wall of Fame and the Athletic Trainers and Buffalo Sports Halls of Fame.

He served 11 years as assistant trainer before taking over the department following Abramoski’s retirement after the 1995 season.

But Bud isn’t defined only by his occupation, he’s also President of the Ilio DiPaolo Scholarship Fund which has raised $1 million for WNY student-athletes and works with D.A.R.E., Kids Escaping Drugs and the Center for Handicapped Children.

STILL, HE’S a trainer at heart, fiercely loyal to the precepts of medical privacy.

Hence, his tendency to shun publicity.

Indeed, about his only real interaction with the media is circumstantial, during training camp. There, on the sidelines at St. John Fisher College, he occasionally engages in some banter, but with his eyes never leaving the field and the 90-some players practicing in the summer sun.

But after the latest award, feeling his staff deserved its due, Bud sat down with Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News.

Carpenter talked specifically about the rewards of his job.

“We always had a saying: We know all the players’ names, their wives’ names, their kids names and most of the dogs names,” he told Carucci. “We’re kind of the first-line of defense for them on and off the field.

“When a son or daughter would get hurt, they’re calling us instead of ,the pediatrician, asking us, ‘Where should we send them? What should we do?’”

Carpenter added, “I think it’s equally important that the wives, over the years, have trusted us to take care of their husbands and their family.

“That’s what speaks volumes to me and satisfies me as much as anything.”

Entering his 31st season with the Bills, Carpenter, with the hiring of Rex Ryan, will now work under his 12th head coach -- including Elijah Pitts’ short stint when Marv Levy underwent prostate surgery -- while Whaley is the eighth general manager over his tenure.

Through it all, Carpenter’s job has never been in jeopardy ... and, as the awards show, with good reason.