NFL Physicians Society Honors Members At Scientific Meeting And Symposium

Feb 29, 2016

Fain-Cain Award for Outstanding NFL Athletic Trainer awarded to Panthers’ Vermillion
Arthur C. Rettig. M.D. Award for Academic Excellence Awarded to Cowboys’ Cooper
Jerry “Hawk” Rhea Award given to Panthers’ Anderson

Indianapolis, Ind. – February 29, 2016 – The NFL Physicians Society (NFLPS) held its annual Scientific Meeting and Symposium during the NFL Scouting Combine and hosted an awards ceremony honoring the best of the NFL doctors and head athletic trainers. Ryan Vermillion of the Carolina Panthers was awarded with the Fain-Cain Memorial Award for Outstanding NFL Athletic Trainer of the Year. Dr. Robert B. Anderson, M.D. of the Carolina Panthers, was awarded the Jerry “Hawk” Rhea Award as Outstanding NFL Team Physician by the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS). Daniel E. Cooper, MD, head team physician for the Dallas Cowboys was awarded the prestigious Arthur C. Rettig, M.D. Award, named in honor of the head team physician of the Indianapolis Colts.

The Fain-Cain Award is named for Dr. Thomas E. Cain, M.D., and Dr. Robert H. Fain, M.D., both long-time team physicians for the Houston Oilers. The award was established shortly after Dr. Cain’s death and Dr. Fain’s retirement. The award is given annually to an NFL athletic trainer who best reflects the virtues of a certified athletic trainer and displays the highest level of professionalism.

Ryan Vermillion has served as an athletic trainer in the NFL for 24 years. He started as a Director of Rehabilitation for the Miami Dolphins and later with the Washington Redskins. He has served as the Panthers’ Head Athletic Trainer for 14 years.

“One thing that separated Ryan apart from others, particularly early in his career, was the fact that he was both a highly experience athletic trainer but also a certified physical therapist,” stated Dr. Patrick M. Connor, head team physician for the Carolina Panthers, who presented the award to him on behalf of the NFLPS.

“He was a physical therapist after graduating from University of Miami for several years before joining the Dolphins.  And based on his physical therapy and rehabilitation experience combined with his athletic training acumen, it isn’t a surprise he has had notable rehabilitation successes throughout his NFL career.  He is likely the only head athletic trainer who successfully rehabbed his starting quarterback (Dan Marino) and head coach (Don Shula) with the same injury (Achilles tendon rupture),” said Connor.

In addition to his work with the Panthers, Vermillion serves on the executive board as Treasurer. Through combined efforts of the NFL and Gatorade, he works with PFATS Foundation Board to provide grant programs for athletic trainers, assists with an athletic training initiative for high schools and athletic trainer outreach program. He also endeavors to enhance athlete safety at underserved high schools.

The Jerry “Hawk” Rhea Award is given to the NFL team physician who has made the greatest contributions to both the NFL and the profession of athletic training. The Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS) presented the award at the annual NFLPS Scientific Meeting. Dr. Robert Anderson, M.D. of the Carolina Panthers was named the recipient of the Jerry “Hawk” Rhea Award, named for Jerry Rhea who was the Head Athletic Trainer for the Atlanta Falcons from 1969 until 1994 and worked as Assistant to the President of the Falcons from 1994 to 2001.

Dr. Anderson is the founding member of the Foot & Ankle Institute at OrthoCarolina. He has served as past president of the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society. In addition, Anderson is a team physician for the Carolina Panthers and a consultant to numerous collegiate and professional teams. He was awarded 2015 “Top Doctor” by the Charlotte Magazine. The previous year, he was recognized as 2014 “Top Doctor” by the Charlotte Business Journal. Anderson received his BS from University of Mississippi and his MD from the Medical College of Wisconsin. His medicine specialty is foot and ankle.

The Arthur C. Rettig Award for Academic Excellence is given annually to an NFL team physician for academic excellence in research in advancing the health and safety of players in the NFL. The award honors Dr. Rettig’s long-time commitment to research and education of NFL team physicians by his establishment of and continuing organization and support of the annual scientific sessions.

The study, “Return to Play Following Isolated and Combined ACL Reconstruction: 25 Years of Experience Treating NFL Athletes,” was presented by Dr. Cooper at the NFLPS Scientific Meeting. His co-authors were: Michael Khair, MD; Jim Maurer, ATC; J. Britt Brown, ATC; Hayden McColl, BS; and Robert D. Vandermeer, MD.

The study, “presents over 25 years of experience in a single institution where NFL athletes’ ACL injuries were surgically treated. Young age and playing on offense are positive predictors of return to play (RTP)…Our experience suggests that regardless of RTP definition, the anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) techniques and rehab principles used in this study period led to a higher RTP percentage in the NFL than previous studies have reported…It is best to always interpret RTP % in the context of the inclusion criteria and RTP definition,” concluded the award winning study.

Dr. Cooper is a widely recognized authority in the field of sports medicine, sub-specializing in injuries to the knee and shoulder. He treats all types of athletes; professionals, collegiate, high school and recreational. He is currently the head team physician for the Dallas Cowboys Football Team and formerly for the Dallas Stars Hockey Team (1993-2011). He has served as a team physician in professional sports for over 30 combined seasons.

Dr. Cooper’s practice primarily focuses on minimally invasive arthroscopic and reconstructive surgical techniques for the knee and shoulder that restore stability and joint function in young athletic individuals. Dr. Cooper is an internationally known expert in the treatment of complex knee ligament injuries involving injury to the anterior cruciate, posterior cruciate and collateral ligaments, and his practice serves as a referral center for difficult and revision cases. Additionally, he is the inventor and co-developer of the new Single Portal Arthroscopy system (Stryker Endoscopy) that offers an innovative way to perform arthroscopic surgery with fewer incisions than ever before.

 Dr. Cooper received the Jerry “Hawk” Rhea Award in 2013. In addition, he received the Excellence in Research Award from the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine for his post-graduate research related to graft strength for ACL surgery in the knee.

Dr. Cooper was also named one of the Top 70 Knee Surgeons in America by Becker’s Healthcare Review. He has been elected by his physician peers to D Magazine’s annual edition of “Best Doctors in Dallas” 20 times, and has been listed numerous times by America’s Best Doctors and Texas Super Doctors.

About The NFL Physicians Society

The NFL Physicians Society was founded in 1966. Its mission is to provide excellence in the medical and surgical care of the athletes in the National Football League and to provide direction and support for the athletic trainers in charge of the care for these athletes. For more information, please visit

 Contact: Amy Weiss, 202-203-0448, for the NFLPS