As a sports fan, I’ve come to recognize trends in athletics and what certain innuendos mean. There are three little words in sports lingo that just scare the jeepers out of me. I usually know it’s not a good thing when these three words are brought into any conversation, relayed on any news reports, or uttered from the mouths of coaches, managers and players. Those three words are “Doctor James Andrews.”
Dr. Andrews is an orthopedic surgeon who practices in Birmingham, Alabama at the Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthropaedic Center (call and you might actually be able to schedule an appointment, as only about 25 percent of his surgeries are done on athletes.). He’s one of the most recognizable “name” doctors in the known world. But to many professional athletes, he’s their personal doctor. To fans of those athletes, he’s a scary name. Usually if someone is associated with Dr. James Andrews, something is wrong. That problematic something, whether it is knee, shoulder, or elbow, is going to get fixed. But if it is serious enough for Andrews to look at, then it is pretty serious.
If there’s someone else who has a bigger list of names associated with him, I want to see it. Can you imagine what the contact list on his cell phone looks like? He must have some kind of referral rate! Just take a look at all the names he has been associated with, either through surgery or consultation, over the years: Troy Aikman, Drew Brees, John Smoltz, Jack Nicklaus, Roger Clemens, Michael Jordan, and more recently, Brett Favre. These are all Hall of Fame caliber players, and there are countless others. Smoltz has repeatedly said on local Atlanta Braves telecasts that Andrews single-handedly saved his career and made his off the field life more enjoyable. Back in 2000 Smoltz was having serious elbow pains. Just four years removed from a Cy Young award, he thought his career may be over and he thought the things he took for granted, such as playing with his kids and swinging a golf club, would be severely limited. But in swooped Andrews to perform Tommy John surgery and two years later, Smoltz was an All-Star closer.
Andrews is in the news this week, and Minnesota Vikings fans are praying that he has some good news for a certain someone. Brett Favre had his ankle surgically repaired by Andrews back in May and is set to consult with him later this week about the ankle. If Favre gets good news and assurance from Andrews, then it’s a good bet that #4 will be suiting up for the Vikings again. Just when you thought that career was put to rest, huh? Admit it… you never thought Favre was going to retire anyway!
Just last week I was at Turner Field watching the Braves take on the Mets. During the game, Braves pitcher Kris Medlen began experiencing pain in his elbow and had to leave his start early. Before the broadcasters even said it, the good doctor’s name entered my mind and I immediately cringed, both as a fan and for the player. It’s amazing how one name can be associated with so many athletes and so many professional teams. Sure enough, an MRI showed Medlen had a partial tear in his UCL, which will likely eventually lead to Tommy John surgery. Any guesses who is going to perform that surgery? Kris, meet Dr. James Andrews.
“Dr. James Andrews” is definitely a scary phrase to hear, especially if it relates to a player for one of your teams. On one end, fans feel fairly confident that Andrews will fix whatever ails the athlete. But, if it’s serious enough for Andrews to look at and possibly fix, then chances are that athlete is going to miss a lot of time on the field. That’s what’s scary!