Dr. James Andrews founded the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Ala., and is the doctor for multiple college and pro teams. His new book on youth sports injuries, "Any Given Monday," is slated to be published Tuesday. Andrews, an orthopedic surgeon who operated on Adrian Peterson
's knee, was kind enough to chat with the Star Tribune's Michael Rand this week:
Q It was barely a year ago -- Dec. 30, 2011 -- that you performed Adrian Peterson's surgery. First off, did you find a man's body underneath the flesh, or is he a cyborg as we all suspect?
A He's been a miracle. He's a genetic individual who has been blessed to do what he's done. ... If you operate on the right athlete, they make you look pretty good as a physician. The three people who really got him there were Eric Sugarman, his trainer with the Vikings; Russ Paine, one of the best physical therapists in the country, and then Adrian Peterson. He's the guy motivated to do all that. The rehab is boring and tiring. He pushed himself and motivated himself and was determined to be better than ever. The surgery was only a small part of it.
Q But seriously, from a medical standpoint, how do you explain what he has been able to do this season so soon after that injury and surgery?
A His recovery and success has been a major miracle. My definition of a miracle is something that happens that you don't expect to happen. Thank God for it.
Q You've had a major impact on two big recent Vikings seasons, then, because you also did Brett Favre's surgery before the 2009 season, right?
A That was another one. Brett Favre was bound and determined to make a recovery, and he had very little time to do that. The only thing that got him was the New Orleans Saints.
Q You could have "famed surgeon" officially added to the beginning of your name. At what point did you become a household name -- the go-to guy, it seems -- for major sports injuries?
A Oh, I don't know. You never plan things. There are two things that make you successful in sports medicine: availability and communication. You have to be available to take care of people. It has to be your hobby. For me, football season is seven days a week. I have the Redskins game on Sunday and Alabama's national championship game Monday. I've been operating all day. And I'm 70 years old. I'm still going at it. That's what it takes, man.
Q Your new book, "Any Given Monday," is focused on youth athletes -- specifically how to prevent the mounting number of injuries they suffer. Why did you feel like this type of book was necessary at this time?
A The whole purpose was to get information out and stimulate parents, grandparents, kids and coaches about the epidemic going on across the board in youth sports -- and try to keep kids out of the operating room and on the playing field. There's been a five- to seven-fold increase across the board in youth sports since the year 2000 with youth kids and high school kids getting major injuries.
Q Is there one overriding factor causing those injuries?
A Two things changed: One is specialization in playing year-round in one sport. The other is professionalism. Kids are trying to trying to train like professional athletes and they're still young and vulnerable to all the training. Parents don't have a clue about kids and their risk factors.