Washington Lineman-Turned-Surgeon Mark Adickes Now Treats Athletes Like Robert Griffin III and Yao Ming

Playing pro ball is a great achievement for anyone, no matter how far they go in the game. Even getting drafted is an accomplishment most can’t claim. So to join the ranks of NFL players and enjoy another successful career in a different field is doubly impressive. Former Washington Football Team lineman Mark Adickes was able to do just that.

Along with playing for two NFL teams, he has also excelled in another area: medicine. It’s a jump that not many other players have made, though some have done it.

Let’s take a closer look at Adickes’ amazing professional life, which has taken him to the bright lights of the NFL and the surgeon’s table. 

Mark Adickes’ NFL career

Mark Adickes is now a successful surgeon, but he started on the gridiron. According to Harvard Medicine, the Kansas City Chiefs drafted him in the first round of the 1986 draft after playing in the now-defunct USFL. By 1989, he made his way to Washington, where in 1991 he’d be part of the team that knocked off the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl. 

Adickes said his NFL career represented the culmination of a dream come true. He considered himself fortunate to get the opportunity to play at the sport’s highest level: 

“The experience of being part of a team, the camaraderie of a pretty amazing group of guys, and winning the Super Bowl and receiving a Super Bowl ring; all those memories are icing on the cake.” 

Mark Adickes via Harvard Medicine

He went from being a draft pick to a world champion. It’s a dream many athletes never realize, but Adickes was able to accomplish it. He’d later retire and turn to medicine for his professional second act. 

Adickes’ medical career

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For his medical school journey, Adickes first attended George Mason. After completing his studies there, his wife encouraged him to apply to Harvard Medical School, Harvard Medicine reported. It took some prodding, but he applied and was accepted. While there, he not only succeeded but also excelled. Upon his graduation, the school selected him as their commencement speaker. 

After completing medical school, Adickes accepted a residency as an orthopedic surgeon at the world-famous Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. He’d later participate in a sports medicine fellowship in Vail, Colorado’s Steadman Hawkins Clinic. That put Adickes in the place he loved most: the operating room. Where is he now? He works as an orthopedic surgeon at Houston’s Texas Medical School. Along with that, he’s also the co-medical director of Memorial Hermann Ironman Sports Medicine Institute. 

After several successful years as a surgeon, Adickes again broadened his professional horizons by becoming a television commentator. In 2013, he began analyzing sports medicine for ESPN. 

The teams and athletes Mark Adickes has worked with

Sports Illustrated reported that Adickes’ pro career ended with a significant back injury. Though he left the game at the relatively young age of 31, he still appreciated the sport and other athletes. Adickes went on to operate on many athletes, including former baseball player Lance Berkman and former NBA center Dikembe Mutombo. 

But the most special athlete operation Adickes performed was that of former Baylor star and current Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback Robert Griffin III. When Griffin tore his ACL for the first time in 2009, it was Adickes who repaired it. Griffin came back stronger than before, winning the coveted Heisman Trophy in 2011. 

Adickes said helping athletes is one of his favorite parts of his job: 

“It’s a blast taking care of athletes. I can see myself in them. I know what they’re thinking when they walk in my office. I’ve been there, I’ve felt that. And now I can be the one to help them get back on the field.”

Mark Adickes via Sports Illustrated

He may be glad he gets the opportunity to help athletes, but there are many more injured athletes who are happy he’s chosen this line of work.