Team Physicians “Bearly” Contain Super Bowl Excitement
|Feinberg School faculty members and alumni were well represented among the Chicago Bears team physicians at this year’s Super Bowl. They include (from left) Drs. Mark Bowen, Gordon Nuber, Mike Ankin, and Adam Bennett.
Every professional football team dreams about making it to the Super Bowl, but what about team physicians? “I never expected to be standing on the sidelines of the Super Bowl,” says Adam W. Bennett, MD ’99, assistant professor of clinical family medicine. “It was a pretty awesome experience!”
A Chicago Bears’ team physician, this sports medicine specialist joined his “team” in Miami for the National Football League’s big game February 4. Watching live what would become the second-most watched Super Bowl television broadcast in history, the six-member physician team displayed not only a hefty dose of blue and orange in support of the Bears but also some Northwestern purple and white. The Super Bowl XLI medical contingent included faculty members Mark K. Bowen, MD, associate professor of clinical orthopaedic surgery, and Gordon W. Nuber, MD, GME ’83, professor of clinical orthopaedic surgery, as well as Feinberg School alumni Michael G. Ankin, MD ’75, GME ’77, and Howard Katz, MD, GME ’81. These physicians look after the health care needs of the players throughout much of the year by providing medical attention on the field and giving physical exams—pre- and post-season. The Super Bowl, of course, was no ordinary game.
Given the importance of this championship, the entourage of supporters traveling with the Bears had expanded to a few hundred more than the norm, according to Dr. Bennett. “In Miami we also took care of players’ family members as well as addressed the usual player and support staff issues in the training room,” explains this first-time Super Bowl attendee. “I definitely relied on my family medicine skills at this event. I cared for some pregnant women, kids with runny noses and ear aches, and a massage therapist who was hit by a motorcycle in [Miami’s] South Beach.”
Arriving at Dolphin Stadium by early afternoon on Super Bowl Sunday, Dr. Bennett and his colleagues set up the training room and assisted a few players with medical treatment. They also had the opportunity to soak in the hoopla as well as get soaked in what would turn out to be a very rainy game. Says Dr. Bennett, “It was thrilling to see all the media, celebrities, and fans. Judging from the roar of the crowd, it seemed that at least 70 percent of the people there were rooting for the Bears.”
Cheering for the Bears started early during the opening kickoff, when Chicago Bear Devin Hester made Super Bowl history—running the ball down the field for 92 yards—and the team’s first touchdown. “Before the kickoff I was joking around that there would be no need for the Bears’ offense,” shares Dr. Bennett. “Then Devin came back for the touchdown. I was just kidding!”
Unfortunately the Chicago Bears couldn’t sustain the momentum and eventually lost to the Indianapolis Colts 17-29. While fireworks lit the Miami sky to celebrate the Colts’ victory, the Bears retired to the locker room and the medical team got back to business as usual by conducting end-of-the-year or exit physicals. Says Dr. Bennett, “We didn’t leave the stadium until about 11:30 p.m.”
A party awaited the Bears at the team’s Miami hotel that evening. While few felt like celebrating, those involved with the team were proud of what it had accomplished and privileged to be a part of the Super Bowl experience. Dr. Bennett, for one, has high hopes for next year.
Says the Bears fan, “This team has a lot of talent, and it is reasonable to expect they could make the playoffs and repeat this event next year in Arizona.”
That’s the spirit. Go Bears!