Elfin: The Lasting Legacy Of A Skin Who Only Played 2 Years Here Is Felt 20 After Leaving D.C.
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Mark Adickes played just two seasons for the Redskins, starting only one of the 24 games in which he got on the field. Adickes, now 51, hasn’t lived in the area since but has remained a passionate Redskins fan.
And while Adickes played a small role in Washington winning its last Super Bowl in what turned out to be his final NFL game in January 1992, he played an important role in what could be the key to the Redskins finally returning to football’s pinnacle.
Of course, the former offensive lineman is no longer opening holes in opposing defenses, but Adickes is the orthopedic surgeon who opened up Robert Griffin III’s right knee and repaired the torn ACL in Houston in 2009.
RGIII was having a strong start to his sophomore season at Baylor when he was hurt. He returned better than ever in 2010 and now he’s the Redskins’ new starting quarterback after being drafted second overall last month.
“When he got hurt, Robert was looking for other doctors and decided to come down and see me because he knew … that I was a former pro football player who understood the goals that he had,” Adickes recalled. “My dad was in the army. I was born overseas and when I graduated from high school, my dad was stationed at Fort Hood (Tex.). And then I played football at Baylor. Robert’s parents were both in the army. He was born overseas and when he graduated from high school, his parents were stationed at Fort Hood and then he played football for Baylor.”
While Adickes wasn’t as dynamic an athlete as Griffin is, he was good enough to be an All-American left tackle. But in his second game with the Los Angeles Express of the United States Football League in 1984, Adickes dislocated his right knee.
“I had sprained my ACL and torn my MCL in that same knee when I was at Baylor,” said Adickes, a business major as an undergraduate. “They put a big staple in my knee to fix the MCL. That’s when I started reading about knee injuries. After I got done screaming and writhing around when I dislocated my knee, I remember saying, ‘Oh my gosh. I got my ACL and PCL.’ Our team doctor, Jim Tibone, looked at me like, ‘Wow. How did you know all that from watching my exam?’”
Adickes played another eight years even though “my knee was never really the same. I had a foot-long incision and I was in a cast for a couple months. It was what they did back then. But I had a stable knee which I could play on which was remarkable for that time.”
Adickes never lost his interest in sports medicine and wound up graduating from Harvard Medical School and working at the Mayo Clinic before returning to Texas and helping RGIII become a star.
“I had watched Robert as a freshman and was blown away,” Adickes said. “He would probably argue this point, but running was a very prominent part of his game. I think he became the quarterback he is now, in large part, because of the injury. He rehabbed like a maniac, got all his muscles as strong as could be. He was doing so much so early that his good knee was getting sore because he was working so hard. We actually had to slow him down.”
Adickes did such a good job that Griffin has retained the world-class-speed that helps make him such a special quarterback, one whom his surgeon can’t wait to see play for the Redskins.
“It was a lot of fun getting to know Robert and watching him develop,” Adickes said. “I’m incredibly impressed with his game and his athletic ability, but also his poise. He’s such a bright, bright guy. He’s going to be a superstar. As soon as I heard that the Redskins had traded up to get Robert, I texted him and told him that I needed to teach him how to sing ‘Hail To The Redskins.’”
Adickes has been so busy with his studies, his five kids and, more recently, his surgical practice that he hasn’t been back to Washington to see the Redskins play since his career ended. But now he has an extra-special incentive to do so.
“I played four years in Kansas City and just two in Washington, but I made more lasting relationships with the Redskins,” Adickes said. “Going to the Super Bowl, the chemistry was pretty amazing. Russ Grimm, Jeff Bostic, Joe Jacoby, Jim Lachey and those guys embraced me as one of the Hogs. Mark Schlereth and I were practically brothers. I’m going to try to get to a game this year although it’s nerve-wracking watching Robert play. Hopefully, he stays in the pocket and slides plenty. I feel like I have a little piece of Robert’s success.”
Few fans remember that Adickes even played for the Redskins, but if his former patient is as good as he and so many football observers expect, he will have helped his old team more than he did during his two season in the trenches with the Hogs.
David Elfin began writing about sports when he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. He is Washington’s representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and the author of seven books, most recently, “Washington Redskins: The Complete Illustrated History.” A pre-game regular on 106.7-The Fan the last two Redskins seasons, he has been its columnist since last March.