The particular expertise of Stephania Bell, ESPN.com senior writer and host of ESPN Radio’s Fantasy Focus, perfectly complements Drs. Kaplan and Adickes on ESPN’s “medical staff.” With more than 20 years of experience in orthopedics and sports medicine, Bell’s insight allows her to convey post-injury expectations to ESPN viewers.
“I’ve seen firsthand how athletes recover from injury — some constantly press the envelope and challenge previously established timetables, like Adrian Peterson, while others may struggle to regain their pre-injury form,” said Bell, who received her Master of Science degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Miami.
“The fantasy sports audience has an insatiable thirst for injury information since it’s so critical to setting weekly lineups, and as a long-time fantasy player myself, I can identify with them,” Bell said. “They have incorporated terms like ‘Lisfranc’ into their sports vernacular and recognize why high ankle sprains can be tricky. For me, one of the biggest rewards is getting emails or Tweets from fans saying, ‘Thanks for explaining that. Now I understand what that injury really means.’”
With NFL fans seemingly spending more time fretting over X-ray results than game results, ESPN has enlisted another medical correspondent — Dr. Mark Adickes, Co-Medical Director of the Ironman Sports Medicine Institute at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston.
“With the rash of injuries in the NFL this season, we felt it was imperative to enhance that part of our reporting,” said Senior Vice President and Director of News Vince Doria. “Dr. Adickes provides us someone with the unique combination of professional football playing experience and an impressive medical background.”
Adickes has as much in common with ESPN NFL analysts Mark Schlereth and Steve Young and ESPN college football analyst Todd Blackledge as he does with fellow ESPN medical colleague Dr. Michael Kaplan. As an offensive lineman, Adickes played with Schlereth on the 1991 Washington Redskins Super Bowl champs; with Blackledge on the Kansas City Chiefs for the 1986-87 seasons; and with Young on the USFL’s Los Angeles Express before the quarterback moved onto the San Francisco 49ers.
“Schlereth is my best friend – I babysat his kids. When I saw Steve at the Super Bowl, he came up and gave me a big hug. He knows I protected his blind side,” Adickes said. “Working for ESPN is a dream I had back in ‘96 when I graduated Harvard Medical School — wouldn’t it be great if I could combine my background as a physician and as a player?”
Adickes — who earned a business degree as a Baylor undergrad — joins Kaplan, perhaps TV’s original sports-injury doctor, who first reported for ESPNEWS in 2003.
“I was talking with [ESPN Executive Vice President and Executive Editor] John Walsh, and pointed out CNN had neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta giving insights on medical issues, but ESPN had no one talking about sports-related medical issues,” said Kaplan, a Connecticut-based orthopedic surgeon and graduate of the University of Vermont’s College of Medicine. “Who wins a pennant race, the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, often comes down to who’s hurt – injuries are the only unknown variable you can’t predict.”
While Kaplan’s background includes working with the esteemed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews at the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Ala., Adickes’ self-described post-NFL “Jock to Doc” journey began with post-baccalaureate studies at George Mason University, and included stops at the Mayo Clinic, where he was selected Chief Resident, and the Steadman Hawkins Clinic in Vail, Colo.