The Blazers have parted ways with their head athletic trainer for the past 19 years, Jay Jensen.
“We thank Jay [Jensen] for his 19 years of service with the team and wish him well in his future endeavors,” said Blazers GM Neil Olshey.
Jensen joined the Blazers prior to the start of the 1994-1995 season, and was the Western Conference All-Star Team’s athletic trainer in 2012 and 1994 (with the Minnesota Timberwolves).
However, Jensen’s time with the Blazers hasn’t been without bumps in the road.
Jensen, as well as the rest of the Blazers’ medical staff, have been blamed often for the injuries that have plagued the Blazers in recent years, most notably to Brandon Roy and Greg Oden. Roy was forced to retire after repeated knee injuries throughout his career that had led to a significant lack of cartilage in his knees following the required surgeries. Oden hasn’t played a game since December 5, 2009, as a result of repeated knee surgeries of his own, and has struggled to get healthy ever since (although it was reported that multiple teams did have interest in signing him back in January). From 2009 to 2012, the Blazers had a total of 667 games missed due to injury from their players, the most in the league during that period.
In spite of the injury troubles the Blazers have dealt with in recent years, many former Blazers have given Jensen their vocal support, among them Oden and former Blazers interim GM Chad Buchanan.
“Jay is a great guy,” Oden said in a 2010 story by the Columbian. “He has a lot on his plate, but he handles it well. And he makes sure all of us are all taken care of.”
“I think Jay has done an outstanding job. You look at Gerald Wallace, he’d battled a lot of injuries kind of the nature of the way he had played. He’d hurt almost every bone and joint in his body throughout his years in Sacramento and Charlotte. He came to us, I think he played with us for 71 games and he played in 69. One of those games we sat him,” said Buchanan in 2012.
Personally, I’m grateful to Jensen for his work for the Blazers. Jensen may have played some role in the severity of the injuries to Roy, Oden, and the other Blazers who had struggled through significant injuries and poor treatment, but conversely, he may have prevented even worse from happening. What is certain that he’s been treating the Blazers’ injuries for 19 years, including that freakish 2009-10 season where eight of the players on the roster missed at least a month due to various injuries.
The Blazers will move on without Jensen. If they look in-house for their next head athletic trainer, assistant athletic trainer Geoff Clark could be the man to replace Jensen. Clark has been with the Blazers for 15 years.