A Panther Among Bears
When you think of former UNI Panthers in the National Football League, Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner and All-Pro running back David Johnson come to mind.
But there is a new name to add to the list: Daniel Drees, M.S. '16.
Drees, now an assistant athletic trainer for football, basketball and baseball at Wartburg College in Waverly, applied for a preseason internship with all 32 NFL teams in 2013. He received interviews with two teams and was one of five interns selected by the Chicago Bears.
Once his preseason internship was completed, Drees kept in contact with the Bears' athletic training staff and expressed interest in a season-long internship after graduate school. Sure enough, he applied again and was selected for a regular season internship after interviewing with the head athletic trainer. This was no small accomplishment, as there were hundreds of applicants and most NFL athletic training staffs bring on no more than two interns.
As an intern with the Bears, Drees worked one-on-one with injured players during their rehabilitation. He also attended every practice, traveled to all road games during the preseason and the regular season, and set up the locker room the night before games.
"Working with the team was a blast," said Drees. "The athletic training staff in Chicago is one of the best around, and I couldn't have asked for a better staff and organization to work for." He credits much of his success with the Bears to the preparation he received from the athletic training staff at UNI, where he was able to work directly with student athletes.
"My hands-on experience at UNI helped me a lot in Chicago, because what I learned at UNI was very similar to how things were done in Chicago," said Drees. "Without the hands-on experience at UNI, I would not have been able to do as well as I did."
Drees might not have the public profile of Kurt Warner or David Johnson, but his experience with the Bears is proof you don't need to wear a jersey to be part of the NFL.