The Detroit Lions have hired Michael Sundeen as their new head athletic trainer, according to a report from the Detroit Free Press. Sundeen replaces Kevin Bastin, who was the head trainer for the Lions in two different spans: from 2014-2019 and again in 2021-2022. It’s unclear why the Lions are moving on from Bastin, but the former Lions athletic trainer posted this message on his Linkedin page on Saturday:
Stepping away from the NFL again. Many thanks to my fellow staff Athletic Trainers, Equipment Managers, Ground Crews, Finance Staff, Team Physicians and most of all my wife and family for letting me serve in this profession. God has directed my every step and he will will have a plan for me going forward, I just need to be faithful.
Sundeen has served as the assistant athletic trainer for the Denver Broncos since the 2014 season. He has been behind head athletic trainer Vince Garcia since 2017, so this represents an opportunity to finally get his shot to run the program.
The Lions—who were the sixth most injured team in 2022 and third-most in 2021, per Adjusted Games Lost—have made a concerted effort this offseason to improve their medical staff. Earlier this offseason, the Lions hired Brett Fischer to be their director of player health and performance, who was a well-respected Physical Therapist Consultant prior to the move.
This offseason the NFL Players Association released report cards for each team based on surveys given before the 2022 season. In that report, the Lions received low grades for their food service/nutrition (D-) and training room (D+). Team president Rod Wood said at last week’s owners meetings that they knew of these deficiencies from internal surveys and Fischer’s hire was a reflection of efforts to turn around those departments.
“The two areas that I think we needed to do better on were identified in the dining support for the players and then just the overall training room and the training approach,” Wood said. “We were proactively already addressing those even before the PA survey came out. Part of bringing Brett Fisher in was part of that response.”
That addition of Sundeen should help, too, as his decade of athletic training at the NFL level is sure to be a welcomed addition to the staff.