December 14, 2024 | The Historic Cramton Bowl

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December 14, 2024

9:00 pm ET/8:00 pm CT on ESPN

Montgomery, Alabama




Posted December 23, 2023

By Tim Gayle

Dr. James Andrews is the most renowned orthopedic surgeon in sports medicine, but the 83-year-old Louisiana native talked less about sports and more about education on Friday at the annual Alabama Legends luncheon sponsored by Regions Bank.

Andrews was the recipient of the Alabama Legends Award this year and was honored at the annual luncheon held at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Spa at the Convention Center on Friday afternoon.

The luncheon included players, coaches and administrators from Arkansas State and Northern Illinois, who will meet in the 10th annual Camellia Bowl on Saturday at Cramton Bowl.

“When I get a chance to talk to football players, you’ve got to realize there is life after football,” Andrews said. “If I say nothing that would influence you other than this one statement, education is more important than your athletic careers. So you have an opportunity to get your education. Make sure you get it because, sooner or later, you’ll find out how important it is. You can’t be a football player forever.”

Andrews is the ninth recipient of the award, joining Bobby Bowden, Pat Dye, Woodrow Lowe, Gene Stallings, Johnny Davis, Larry Blakeney, Woody McCorvey and Chan Gailey.

Andrews’ patients are some of the most famous sports figures in history, including Michael Jordan, Brett Favre, Drew Brees, Bo Jackson, Roger Clemens, Jack Nicklaus and Adrian Petersen. Still, as he noted, Andrews has continued throughout his career to work at all levels of the sport, a demanding toll that he recognized when he quickly took the trophy and presented it to his wife Jenelle.

I started my career, not with the Brett Favres and the Jack Nicklauses but with young kids in high school,” he said. “And throughout my career, I’ve made sure that I continued to work at all levels in sports medicine, from the high schools to the colleges — by the way, we still take care of nine colleges in the state of Alabama on Saturdays, including Alabama and Auburn. But my wife has been a big part of that. That’s why I wanted her to get that little trophy.”

The founder of Andrews Sports Medicine in Birmingham and the Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze, Fla., Andrews was a 1963 Southeastern Conference pole vault champion in both indoor and outdoor track at LSU, but found a way to blend his sports and education into one of the most successful professions in sports history.

He closed his Friday speech with a challenge to the players in town for the Camellia Bowl.

“You know, football is king in this part of the country so you’re really in the hotbed of football,” he said. “So y’all better play real good tomorrow. We’ve got a high standard in this part of the country.

“I’ll be pulling for both of you tomorrow, just like I was doing at the Auburn-Alabama game. Somebody asked me the other day, well, who do you pull for? In Alabama, that’s a hard question. The answer to that is whoever’s winning.”