Longtime Bills trainer Bud Carpenter retires

Posted Feb 2, 2018

After 33 years of service, Bills athletic trainer Bud Carpenter has retired.

It’s a lot more than taping ankles and treating injuries.

It’s 33-seasons of care and counsel.

It’s a lifetime of service to the Bills and the Western New York community.

Bud Carpenter is stepping down as Director of Training Operations for the Buffalo Bills, retiring from the team he’s worked with since 1985.  Longtime trainer Ed Abramowski hired him away from the NHL’s Boston Bruins. But Carpenter says it was Bills veterans Ken Jones and Jim Haslett, whom he met at training camp in Fredonia, who pushed hard for him to get the job of Assistant Trainer.

 “I got word of the job before ‘Abe’ said anything to me, “Carpenter says.  A couple of Bills veterans, who knew Carpenter from camp, Ken Jones and Jim Haslett, played an instrumental role.

“They said, hey-you’re going to come work for us. The very next day, ‘Abe’ calls me and said, ‘you’re our guy.’ I didn’t really know the job was open. I didn’t apply for it. But I got it.”

A native of Allegany, New York, in Cattaraugus County, Carpenter came back home, to Western New York, for his job with the Bills. He rose through the ranks with the Bills, taking over as Head Athletic Trainer when Abramowski retired in 1996. He was appointed Director of Training Operations for the team in 2016, the job he held until his retirement today.

Bud Carpenter played an integral role in the Bills success in the early 1990s, a wild ride highlighted by four consecutive appearances in the Super Bowl.

“It was an unbelievable ride,” he said. “You kept pinching yourself. Everybody thinks it was the same team but it was probably twenty different guys on each of those teams.”

“It was so special for each team, but it ended up being special for our families, because they were there. They were a part of it. To be able to fly my mom and dad in to a Super Bowl, and to do it four times in a row--it was such an important part of our lives. It was great.”

Carpenter was on the training staff for five AFC Championship games, the four Super Bowls and a Pro Bowl in Hawaii. And he stayed on with the team through the next few decades.

When the Bills opened the 2007 season at home against the Broncos, backup tight end Kevin Everett suffered a serious neck injury covering the second half kickoff. Carpenter and his training staff and the Bills team doctors were credited with providing instant, immediate on field care for Everett that gave him a chance to recover fully from the neck injury.

“It was very serious out there,” Carpenter says. “Everybody had nice accolades for us, but what we did that day was what we were supposed to do. It was what we were trained to do. Ironically, nine days before that we had the ‘down athlete’ drill and we had all the ambulances and doctors out here practicing that scenario. That day with Everett, everybody did what they were supposed to do. The process worked.”

For their work with Everett, the Bills training staff was honored as the NFL Athletic Training Staff of the year, an honor they won again in 2014.

For as much as Bud Carpenter did on the field and in the training room for the Bills, his work off the field and in the community, was just as prominent. He helped set up and he serves on the Ilio Dipaolo Scholarship Fund and has worked extensively with Kids Escaping Drugs and the Center for Handicapped Children.

“Carp” has been honored extensively throughout Western New York. He’s a member of the Section VI and Fredonia State Sports Halls of Fame, the Allegany-Limestone Hall of Fame, and the recipient of Rotary International’s Paul Harris Award. Two years ago, Carpenter was inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.

Carpenter served four years in Air Force before his career in athletic training. He lives in Hamburg with his wife, Kathy, and their daughter Sarah, a standout student and athlete at St John Vianney School in Orchard Park. And Sarah benefits from expert coaching from her father at school.

Relating to athletes, from grade schoolers to highly paid professionals, has always been a strong suit for Bud Carpenter.  And more than tape jobs and injury rehab, it’s the personal relationships with Bills players that will be the hallmark of Carpenter’s career.

“Our job is to get people, players, and keep them on the field. Sometimes the emotional part of it is important—something happened at home or whatever. Sometimes for a player to be able to come in and shut the door and talk about something is important,” he says.

“We take care of people. We are human services people.  We care about people.”

Bud Carpenter’s own words that sum up his approach to his 33 years of NFL excellence.