Coming Up
  • Sat., Jul. 26, 2014 8:20 AM - 10:20 AM CDT *Public practice *Any practices moved inside to the Don Hutson Center due to inclement weather, poor field conditions or for any other reason will be closed to the public due to space limitations. All other practices listed are expected to be open unless listed otherwise. All outdoor practices are expected to be held on Ray Nitschke Field (across from the Resch Center). All times indicated are Central.
  • Sat., Jul. 26, 2014 11:00 AM - 11:30 AM CDT Live McCarthy press conference Head Coach Mike McCarthy will be available to media in the Lambeau Field Media Auditorium.
  • Sat., Jul. 26, 2014 6:30 PM CDT Packers 5K Run/Walk

    The fifth annual ‘5K Run/Walk at Lambeau Field,’ is set for Saturday, July 26, at 6:30 p.m.

    The computer-timed run is highlighted by a neighborhood route that ultimately takes participants into Lambeau Field and around the famed gridiron. The event has a special finish line – the Packers’ ‘G’ painted on turf located in the parking lot.

    All participants will receive a Packers 5K Run T-shirt, a logoed bag, and a bib number and timing chip. To celebrate the race’s fifth anniversary, all participants will receive a commemorative medal. In addition, photos will be taken on the course and will be available at no cost on the Packers 5K Run website.

    Packers-themed awards will be presented to the top three finishers in each age group. An awards ceremony will take place following the conclusion of the race.

    Registration, which is $25 for adults and $15 for children (12 and younger), will be available online beginning Friday, May 23, at www.packers.com/5k. Mail-in registration is also an option, with forms available online and in person at Lambeau Field. Runners can also register at the Bellin Run Expo on Friday, June 13, at Astor Park in Green Bay. Early registration is encouraged. After July 13, registration fees will increase to $30 and $20, respectively.

  • Sun., Jul. 27, 2014 8:20 AM - 10:20 AM CDT *Public practice *Any practices moved inside to the Don Hutson Center due to inclement weather, poor field conditions or for any other reason will be closed to the public due to space limitations. All other practices listed are expected to be open unless listed otherwise. All outdoor practices are expected to be held on Ray Nitschke Field (across from the Resch Center). All times indicated are Central.

News

Print
RSS

Packers' McKenzie NFL's top physician

Posted Mar 10, 2011

He didn’t receive the award specifically for being the most overworked doctor in the league. He got the award for being the best.

Dr. Patrick McKenzie, the Packers’ team physician since the early 1990s, received the Jerry “Hawk” Rhea Award as the NFL’s physician of the year late last month at the scouting combine in Indianapolis.

The award, named for an icon in the business who served as the Atlanta Falcons’ head athletic trainer for a quarter century (1969-94), has been presented by the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS) annually since 1998. McKenzie received his distinction for his work in the 2010 season, when the Packers had the longest injured reserve list in the league.

A modest man who doesn’t seek attention for his role with one of the league’s most storied franchises, McKenzie never expected to receive such an honor. In fact, during the awards ceremony, as McKenzie’s own group, the NFL Physicians Society, was presenting its athletic trainer of the year award to the Denver Broncos’ Steve Antonopulos, McKenzie was jotting down a “note to self” to make sure to nominate Packers head athletic trainer Pepper Burruss for that award next year.

Then suddenly he saw Burruss, who had written an extensive letter in support of Packers assistant athletic trainer Bryan Engel’s nomination of McKenzie, heading to the front of the room to hand him the Rhea Award’s shiny bronze football with a flattering inscription: “For your years of unselfish dedication to the Green Bay Packers, the National Football League and the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society, we honor you as one of our medical statesmen and team physician extraordinaire.”

“The coolest thing about this is it came from the trainers,” said McKenzie, an orthopedic surgeon by trade. “I got my training from Dr. (James) Andrews, but I always say the athletic training world raised me in sports medicine.

“Athletic trainers have really revolutionized sports medicine in their common-sense, progressive approach to how we rehab athletes. So, to get the award from those guys is a big honor for me.”

His colleagues on the Packers medical staff were just as honored to see him get it.

“He does not have the great list of publications and papers that physicians associated with major teaching institutions might have,” Burruss said. “He doesn’t have residents and fellows. He’s really a one-man show running this team, and it’s remarkable what Pat does.”

Medically speaking, this past season was one of the more remarkable in McKenzie’s recollection, with 15 players landing on season-ending injured reserve and countless others working through nagging maladies to play as often as they could.

McKenzie said he appreciated never being pressured by Head Coach Mike McCarthy or General Manager Ted Thompson to make any decisions that compromised a player’s long-term health, and he noted that’s been the case throughout his tenure with the Packers.

That didn’t make 2010 any less challenging, however.

“This year, injury-wise, it was off the charts,” McKenzie said. “Not just numbers, but who they occurred to and when they occurred.

“When we were 3-3, I can’t remember how many were down for the count, but we still had four guys we were hoping might have a chance to come back and they never could. It was even worse than we thought. I said after week six, if we survive this thing, Ted and Mike ought to both go into the Hall of Fame.”

According to Engel, what separates McKenzie in his line of work is he treats all of the players “as if they’re his kids,” but at times that can make his job more difficult emotionally.

Asked to reflect on the Packers’ Super Bowl title, McKenzie immediately turned his thoughts to veteran players he’s worked with extensively over the years who weren’t able to participate in the magical run, such as offensive tackle Mark Tauscher, linebacker Nick Barnett and cornerback Al Harris.

“It was hard to see those guys miss out on something special,” McKenzie said.

He admitted it also wasn’t easy to continually deliver such bad news to McCarthy and Thompson during the first half of the season, when the IR list kept growing, but he credited their professionalism through it all.

“When I have to tell Mike and Ted (a player’s season is over), it’s difficult because they’re disappointed and frustrated and it screws up everything they’ve got planned,” McKenzie said. “But it’s not difficult because they’re such class guys. They accept it and move on and deal with it, which is not that way everywhere. Our medical staff is very fortunate that we’ve always had guys like that here.”

The Packers know they’re fortunate to have McKenzie, too.

Mike Spofford is a 1995 Masters graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University who worked as a sports reporter for two daily newspapers in Wisconsin, covering the Packers in Super Bowl XXXII. Spofford has been a packers.com staff writer since 2006.

 
blog comments powered by Disqus

You May Also Be Interested in...

Recent Videos

  • Mike McCarthy won't rule out having three QBs

    (1:21) Posted 7 hours ago

    Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy gives a preview to the 2014 Training Camp on Thursday, July 25 in the Lambeau Field Media Auditorium. McCarthy talks on Rodgers, Flynn, and Tolzien and the competition that could rule in favor of three quarterbacks on the roster.

  • Mike McCarthy sees a competitive offensive line

    (1:12) Posted 7 hours ago

    Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy gives a preview to the 2014 Training Camp on Thursday, July 25 in the Lambeau Field Media Auditorium. McCarthy talks improvements and big returns to the offensive line.

  • Mike McCarthy previews Packers 2014 Training Camp

    (24:28) Posted 10 hours ago

    Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy gives a preview to the 2014 Training Camp on Thursday, July 25 in the Lambeau Field Media Auditorium.