The season has ended. The players have cleared out their cubicles in the locker room and most have headed into the offseason. The coaches are on a well-deserved hiatus. And yes, the first floor and one corner of the second floor at Virginia Mason Athletic Center are very quiet.
But not everyone has left the building.
On any given morning since the Seahawks' season ended a yard short in their four-point loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX, a dozen players can be found in the training room. That's the domain of Sam Ramsden, the director of health & player performance, head athletic trainer Donald Rich and their staff – assistant athletic trainers David Stricklin and C.J. Neumann and physical therapist Michael Tankovich; as well as team physicians Stan Herring, Ed Khalfayan, Jonathan Drezner, Mike McAdam and Ashwin Rao.
Some of the players are completing their rehab from injuries they got early in the season, like tight end Zach Miller. Others are continuing their recovery process, like defensive tackles Brandon Mebane and Jordan Hill. Then there are those just getting started, like nickel back Jeremy Lane and wide receiver Paul Richardson.
"Every season, there's an aftermath," Ramsden said. "And in that aftermath there's usually after-season, end-of-season surgeries – guys who got hurt during the playoffs that required surgery or at some point during the season they were playing with something that needed to be fixed.
"Now is that time, and there's also guys who had injuries during the season that aren't completely fit. So they're going to spend time getting completely fit, completely rehabbed, so that they can hit April ready to go."
And all of them are doing it under the watchful eyes and with the helping hands of Ramsden, Rich and crew – with an eye on the offseason program that starts in April.
All of this is just the continuation of a situation – the next season, if you will – where the Seahawks placed 17 players on injured reserve and had the All-Pro trio of strong safety Kam Chancellor, free safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman play in the Super Bowl with injuries that could have put them on IR.
"This is pretty standard for the athletic trainer in the NFL, that their season kind of doesn't end," said Ramsden, who is beginning his 17th year with the Seahawks – and fourth in his director role – after spending six seasons with the Green Bay Packers.
"The athletic trainers are kind of the safe harbor for all these players that get hurt. They're the guys that need the most help, so we're here 'round-the-clock."
Even on those early mornings in the wake of a tough-to-get-past loss in the Super Bowl.
"For athletic trainers, it's a challenging deal," Ramsden said. "Because they have to deal with the same things the players and coaches and fans deal with in a tough loss. But they can't have a bad day, because the players that they're working with are counting on them to be consistent and hardworking.
"That's one of my philosophies as an athletic trainer: As someone who takes care of people, you can't have a bad day because that person is counting on you to not only help them, but be consistent emotionally so that they can anchor to that in kind of a tough time."
Ramsden refers to it as "the fear factor," because of "the unknown." Many of the Seahawks who were injured during the just-completed season admitted they were dealing with a serious injury for the first time. And those who had been injured before realize the ramifications that can come from not being available because of it.
"Athletes, especially professional athletes, they know they have a short career," Ramsden said. "So I think there is some fear involved, whether they like to admit it or not, because of the unknown.
"The athletic trainer is able to help them navigate that."