It used to be that if you blew out your knee, your career was over. Now it’s just a 6-8 month setback. Crazy advancements in medicine have allowed our top athletes to bounce back sooner and sometimes even stronger. We see this across all sports, not just your high impact ones. Leading the pack in the future world of sports medicine is Orthopedic Surgeon, Doctor James Andrews. So when a star player goes down, this is the Doc you call. Let’s get to know James a little bit better.
He specializes in repairing damaged ligaments, you know like those ACL, MCL, LOL or whatever injuries in the knee. And for those who don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy, a ligament is the rubberband-thingy that connects bones or holds together a joint. The doc is based out of Alabama but travels for work regularly. In addition to a full schedule of surgeries, Andrews serves as Team Doctor for both Alabama and Auburn football teams as well as the Washington Redskins in the NFL. That’s crazy. You think Nick Saban ever asks him for insider info about the Auburn players?
James Andrews has worked on some of the biggest names in sports. And at an estimated net worth of $100 million, he is richer than most players. Notable patients include: Matthew Stafford, NFL (Shoulder), John Smoltz, MLB (Tommy John), Scottie Pippen, NBA (Elbow), Roger Clemens, MLB (Shoulder), Bo Jackson, NFL and MLB (Shoulder and Hip), Drew Brees, NFL (Shoulder), Peyton Manning, NFL (Knee), Hulk Hogan, WWE (Knee) and Troy Aikmen, NFL (Elbow and Shoulder). This list is just SOME of the big names he has done surgery on. He has also consulted on pretty much everyone. If you are star and you get hurt, you go see James Andrews. That’s the end of it.
I don’t know this for sure, but I bet he golfs and is pretty good at it. He is a doctor. He must golf. Don’t get confused though, he still performs surgery on non-famous folks. This guy is just one of the best scalpels we have and he works his hardest to help as many hurt people as possible. That is really commendable. So if you’re ever in the south and you rip your shoulder, smash your elbow or destroy your knee then you know who to call. Ghostbusters! No, I mean my man James. The hardest working man in scrubs.
Now let’s all go throughly wash our hands before we give him a high five.
“Just when they think they got the answers, I change the questions.”
The insane, unreal world of professional wrestling entered my life when I was a kindergartner in 1986. And “Rowdy” Roddy Piper was there from the very beginning. He was Hulk Hogan’s main nemesis on the CBS Saturday morning cartoon, Rock n’ Wrestling (where Hogan was unintentionally-hilariously voiced by comedian, Brad Garrett). Piper’s LJN action figure then became the main nemesis for Hogan in the toy WWF ring in my bedroom (unintentionally-hilariously voiced by Kindergarten Me). And then the wrestling magazines I was allowed to purchase at grocery stores showed photos of Piper’s legendary matches, like the brutal and graphically bloody Dog Collar Match with Greg Valentine at Starrcade ’83, or the main events of The War to Settle the Score and the first WrestleMania in 1985. As far as I was concerned, wrestling was real, Hulk Hogan was probably the coolest guy on the planet and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper was pure and total evil. He was Skeletor in a kilt, Darth Vader with a sleeper hold.
The Dog Collar Match with Greg Valentine at Starrcade ’83
So imagine my surprise on the morning of January 4th, 1987, when my dad told me he’d taped an episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event and I saw Piper wrestle on TV for the first time. To that point, the only actual wrestling I’d only seen was on WWF Superstars of Wrestling, where mid-card guys would usually just wrestle in squash matches against absolute jobbers who didn’t have the benefit of gimmicks, tanning beds or steroids. The WWF never put the top stars on regular television in that era. But this was different. This was important. Hulk Hogan faced “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff in a steel cage match that ended in controversy. Then “Macho Man” Randy Savage faced the hairy and green-tongued George “The Animal” Steele, was confronted by a returning Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and had his valet, Ms. Elizabeth kidnapped by Steele. The Junkyard Dog stole “King” Harley Race’s crown and robe. And then Piper went head-to-head with “Adorable” Adrian Adonis, an effeminate cross-dresser whose entire purpose was essentially to enrage homophobes in the audience. Here’s the thing though – this time Piper was a good guy. And not only that, he was beloved by the fans. I was completely hooked. And I had to know more.
As it turned out, Piper had taken a leave of absence from the WWF and his Piper’s Pit interview segment was replaced by Adonis’ Flower Shop. When Piper returned, he was attacked and humiliated by Adonis, “Magnificent” Don Muraco and his former bodyguard, “Cowboy” Bob Orton. The feud was leading to a showdown at WrestleMania III. It was a hair vs. hair match. And it was also billed as Piper’s retirement match, as he was heading to Hollywood to become a full-time actor. Anyway, on the very next episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event, the WWF decided to make a tribute video to the retiring Piper set to Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” And that video is how I will remember “Rowdy” Roddy Piper forever.
It’s got most of the greatest hits – smashing the coconut over “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka’s head on Piper’s Pit in 1984, cutting the Haiti Kid’s head to look like Mr. T in 1986, the Adonis attack, the retaliatory baseball bat destruction of the Flower Shop set, his cameo in “Land of 1000 Dances” from The Wrestling Album, the interruption of Uncle Elmer’s wedding, getting Hogan’s response to Andre the Giant’s WrestleMania III challenge and Piper smashing the record over “Captain” Lou Albano’s head at Madison Square Garden in front of Cyndi Lauper. All were absolutely legendary moments in the history of professional wrestling.
In all honesty, it’s probably best that we forget most of his career after that point. The racist ring entrance against Bad News Brown at WrestleMania VI. The bizarre Hollywood Backlot Brawl with Goldust at WrestleMania XII. His entire WCW run. And everything else he did at WWE after the fact, which was mostly just a rehashing of all of the things he did in his heyday. But it is that same heyday that needs remembering and appreciation today. In an era dominated by 300-pound bodybuilders, Piper was the #1 heel and #1 promo guy in a company that was exploding in popularity like never before. Without Piper, Hogan’s popularity probably wouldn’t have been what it was, there probably never would have been a WrestleMania and today’s WWE would look drastically different, if it would even exist at all. Luckily for my childhood, Roddy Piper did exist. And, Jesus Christ, was he good on a microphone. Thank you, Hot Rod. And thank you for doing it your way.
Rest in Peace, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper (April 17, 1954 – July 31, 2015).