87 : Your Best Ability is Availability w/ 4 NFL Pros, 2 Parents & 1 Ortho Doc

This week I am throwing a different type of episode at you guys. A couple weeks back I attended the New Jersey Orthopaedic Institute's Sports Injury Prevention Training camp at Seton Hall Prep in West Orange NJ.  At the camp young athletes learned the proper mechanics and best practices to prevent injuries in their upcoming fall seasons.  The athletes got to hear both current and former NFL players talk about the different ways they took care of or are currently caring for their bodies to optimize longevity throughout their career’s. The NFL players in attendance were retired NFL running back Brian Leonard, current NFL free agent Tim Wright, current Chicago Bears fullback Michael Burton and retired NFL linebacker Kevin Malast. While covering the event, I got the opportunity to interview each of these former Rutgers Football standouts and NFL veterans for about 5 minutes each, which was just enough time to get some great words of wisdom.  In addition I interviewed a couple who brought their two sons to the camp and we hear about Mom’s concerns, but also some of the amazing things football has to offer for their kids and their family as a whole.  The episode concludes with an interview with Dr. Anthony Scillia who taught the athletes about injury prevention from a scientific standpoint. Below are some pictures from the event.

Brian Leonard (2:00):

  • Background: Rutgers Football standout fullback known for leaping over defenders and played in the NFL for 8 seasons as a running back.

    • Drafted by the Rams (07, 08)

    • Cincinnati Bengals (09, 10, 11, 12)

    • Buccaneers (12)

    • New Orleans Saints (13)

  • Approach to avoid injury:

    • Credits the weight room.

  • Positioning and leverage.

    • The importance of knowing how to fall.

  • The consequences of playing through pain.

    • Medication masking injuries.

    • The cumulative affect of playing injured.

    • Compensation leading to other injuries.

  • How injuries affect your performance on the field.

  • Advice to football players for longevity:

    • Prehab/rehab, eating healthy and positioning.

Where can you follow brian?


Tim Wright (10:08):

  • Background: Former Rutgers football standout wide receiver turned NFL tight end free agent who is coming off his second ACL injury, which occurred back in May 2016. Now feels 100% ready to play again.

    • Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13)

    • New England Patriots (14, Super Bowl Champion)

    • Detroit Lions (15)

  • 2010 ACL injury at Rutgers 20 years old.

  • Had time to mature since the last injury.

  • Why NFL stands for "Not for long".

  • Opened barbershop called "The Wright Cut" during his recovery from ACL surgery.

  • Building the business gave him the chance to see his vision through.

  • Importance of having a passion outside of sports.

Where can you follow Tim?


Where can you get a fresh fade💈?

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Michael Burton (16:33) :

  • Background: Former Rutgers football walk-on full back turned team captain and current fullback for the Chicago Bears. Michael is also a previous guest on the podcast and your can hear from him in episode 33. At one point during the camp, Michael told the athletes that “The best ability, is availability” and that really resonated with me, hence the title of this episode. Give a listen to my discussion with Mike about how he keeps himself available:

  • Focus on recovery

    • Cold tub/hot tub

    • Acupuncture

    • Massage therapy

    • Cryotherapy

  • Look to the veterans for advice on longevity.

  • Injury is largely unavoidable from a technique perspective, but positioning can help (low man wins/make yourself small).

Where can you follow Michael?


Kevin Malast (21:17):

  • Background: Linebacker who played 3 seasons in the NFL and played ball with Brian Leonard back in the Rutgers Football Glory Days. Kevin was the kind of guy that avoided the training room at all costs.

    • Chicago Bears

    • Tenesse Titans

  • Staying healthy.

    • Lift a lot of weights with good proper range of motion.

      • Using muscle as armor.

  • Lessons learned from teammates like Brian Urlacher on taking care of his body.

  • Proper rest and nutrients.

  • Never thinking about injury and always going 100%.

    • If you think about getting injured, that’s when you get injured.

  • Only missed two days of school from kindergarten through his senior year of high school

  • Toughness is doing something at a very high level day in and day out and having the consistency day in and day out.

  • Why not everyday is going to be perfect, but how you can make it perfect.

Where can you follow Kevin?


Donald & Angela Robinson, Parents (29:07):

  • 2 kids at the camp.

  • As loving parents, safety is a priority

    • Both kids love football and they want to take all the necessary precautions to help them enjoy the sport.

  • Donald was a linebacker in high school

  • Angela did have reservations about their kids playing.

    • Especially because of concussions.

  • For the Robinson's, football is a family affair.

    • Both sets of Grandparents travel to watch the games.

  • Angela hopes that their kids get a true understanding of how important precaution is.

  • Donald's approach to coaching today's youth.

    • It is more than just football.

      • Building relationships with these kids.

  • The intangible benefits of sports participation and mentorship.

Dr. Anthony Scillia (36:42):

  • Background: Anthony J. Scillia M.D. is a board certified orthopaedic surgeon with subspecialty certification in sports medicine. He was trained at Dr. James Andrews’ prestigious fellowship the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Alabama.

    Along with his partners at New Jersey Orthopaedic Institute, Dr. Scillia serves as a team physician for Seton Hall University, Montclair State University, the New Jersey Jackals baseball team, and sixteen high schools.  In addition, he is the hip consultant for the New Jersey Devils.

  • What the research says about injury prevention:

    • The benefits of rigorous ACL programs:

      • Improving proprioception

      • Jump training and landing properly

      • Proper mechanics

      • Proper warmup and cool down periods

      • Proper stretching and not over training.

  • Baseball Literature: 36% higher injury rate in pitching when not taking a 4 month break in a given year.

  • When athletes are tired and their mechanics breakdown.

  • ACL mechanism of injury:

    • Planting foot and changing direction “Pivot-shift”.

    • The importance of proper quadriceps muscle coordination.

    • Ensuring athletes are jumping with their knees centered over their shoulders instead of buckled in.

  • Contact vs non-contact return to play.

  • Return to play following metacarpal fractures in football players

  • The important roles of Athletic Trainers & Physical Therapists in the rehab process.

    • Modifying the standard “cookbook” for each athlete.

  • Why there is not a set timeline that is generalizable for all athletes.

    • Recovery times are specific to the injury and specific to the athlete.

Where can you Follow NJ Orthopaedic Institute?

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