Dr. James Andrews: The Athletes' Surgeon

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Dr. James Andrews: The Athletes' Surgeon
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

You crouch behind the quarterback, waiting for the snap. He calls for the ball and turns and hands it to you, it presses into your hands and you run forward into the pile of players and you go down, someone lands on your leg, someone on your knee, the pain is terrible, will it ever stop?

You lie on the field, the rest of the players get up, but you stay on the ground, your team's trainers run out onto the field and soon, you find yourself riding off of the field on a cart and your replacement comes running onto the field.

In your mind, you know that something is wrong, although you don't know what. Your knee feels horrible, like some one is pounding on it with a sledgehammer. Will you ever be able to play again?

Many NFL players, as well as other athletes, turn to Dr. James Andrews, an orthopedic surgery in Alabama, when they suffer injuries on and off of the field.

Andrew has operated on such notables as Peyton and Eli Manning (above), Reggie Bush, Drew Brees, Barry Zito, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, Allen Iverson, and just this week, Andrew performed surgery on New Orleans Saints' wide receiver Lance Moore after Moore injured his left shoulder while lifting weights.

Andrews was an athlete himself, the Louisiana native won an SEC conference championship in polevaulting at LSU in his college days.

In 1996, Andrews, along with Larry Lemak, his partner, opened Alabama Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, where he practiced until 2005, when he moved to St. Vincents Hospital and formed Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center.

It is said that every athletic trainer, physical therapist, strength-and-conditioning coach in the land seems to have Andrews' cell phone number.

Many athletes have had success even after suffering horrible injuries. Take Drew Brees, the quarterback for the New Orleans Saints.

While still with the San Diego Chargers, Brees was trying to prove that he, even though he was short, could be the quarterback of the future for the Chargers. He was hit on the goal line on New Years Day in 2005 in a game against the Denver Broncos and fumbled the ball. As he dove to recover the fumble, other players who were also going for the ball, landed on Brees' right shoulder.

With the drafting of Phillip Rivers, Brees was done with the Chargers and after having his shoulder fixed by Andrews, signed the next year with the New Orleans Saints.

Brees then preceded to lead the Black and Gold to the NFC Championship game. Since opening the 2006 preseason for the Saints against the Tennessee Titans, Brees has never missed a game—regular season or preseason.

In fact, Brees was a candidate for the NFL's MVP award in 2008 after becoming only the second player to throw for over 5,000 yards in one season, finishing only 16 yards behind Dan Marino's single season yardage record.

Instead, Peyton Manning, another of Dr. Andrews' patients, captured the award.

It has been said that Dr. Andrews belongs in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame because of his contributions to the sport, but it hasn't happened yet.

As long as he can, Dr. Andrews will sit in Birmingham, Alabama, and quietly put athletes back together, one surgery at a time.

Notable Patients Treated By Dr. James Andrews (courtesy of ESPN)

Football players
• Bo Jackson: shoulder, 1984; hip, 1992
• Doug Williams: knee, 1988
• Bruce Smith: knees, 1990 and 1991
• Troy Aikman: elbow and shoulder, 1991
• Michael Irvin: shoulder, 1994
• Emmitt Smith: shoulder, 1994
• Trent Green: knee, 1999 and 2001
• Chad Pennington: shoulder, 2005 (twice)
• Deuce McAllister: knee, 2005
• Daunte Culpepper: knee, 2005 and 2006
• Takeo Spikes: achilles tendon, 2005
• Donovin Darius: ACL, 2005; shoulder, 2006
• Drew Brees: shoulder, 2006
• Byron Leftwich: ankle, 2006
• Donovan McNabb: knee, 2006
• Matt Hasselbeck: shoulder, 2007
• Joey Porter: knee, 2007
• Kenny Irons: knee, 2007
• Isaiah Kacyvenski: knee, 2007
• D.J. Shockley: knee, 2007

Baseball players
• Roger Clemens: 1985, shoulder, 1985
• David Wells: 1985, elbow, 1985
• Jimmy Key: elbow, 1988; shoulder, 1994, 1995
• Jose Rijo: elbow, 1995; five more elbow ops, 1996-2003
• Steve Karsay: elbow, 1995; shoulder, 2003
• Kerry Wood: elbow, 1999
• John Smoltz: elbow, 2000 and 2003
• Carl Pavano: elbow, 2001 and 2006
• Jon Lieber: elbow, 2002
• A.J. Burnett : elbow, 2003
• Andy Pettitte: elbow, 2004
• Gary Sheffield: shoulder, 2004
• Jim Thome: elbow, 2005
• Mark Prior: shoulder, 2007
• Anibal Sanchez: shoulder, 2007
• Freddie Garcia: shoulder, 2007
• Chris Ray: elbow, 2007

Basketball players
• Charles Barkley: shoulder, 1990
• Michael Jordan: shoulder (therapy, not surgery), 1994
• Penny Hardaway: knee, 1996
• Randy Livingston: knee, 1996
• Scottie Pippen: elbow, 2001
• Allen Iverson: elbow, 2001
• Aaron McKie: shoulder, 2001
• Chris Webber: knee, 2003
• Shaun Livingston: knee, 2007

Golfers
• Jack Nicklaus: knee, 1984
• Jerry Pate: shoulders, 1985, 1986, 2003, 2006
• Mark McCumber: shoulder, 1996

 

 

 

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