If It Quacks Like a Duck: San Diego Chargers’ Dr. Chao Inducted Into NFL Gallery of Medical Heroes

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Deadspin, the provocative and offbeat sports site, has a story about the troubling professional and personal history of Dr. David Chao, the San Diego Chargers’ team physician for the last 14 years. See “The Medical Board Says David Chao Is A Drunk. Former Patients Say He’s A Quack. Why Is He An NFL Team Doctor?”, http://deadspin.com/5835403/the-medical-board-says-david-chao-is-a-drunk-former-patients-say-hes-a-quack-why-is-he-an-nfl-team-doctor.

There is much to chew on here, about Chao generally and about National Football League doctors in general.

Most famously, as followers of the concussion saga know, Dr. Elliot Pellman, the New York Jets’ team physician, lied about his credentials (he went to med school in Guadalajara, Mexico, but claimed he got his M.D. at State University of New York in Stony Brook). As head of the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee, Pellman was deep into every aspect of the league’s planting of a skewed, misleading, and ethically challenged series of articles on concussion syndrome in the journal Neurosurgery.

Historically and to this day, the league’s practitioners from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have gotten a pass for the Steelers’ disproportionate problems with steroid and human growth hormone abuse, brain injuries, and early deaths caused by one or both.

In 2007 one of those Steelers and UPMC docs, Richard Rydze, resigned after ESPN’s Mike Fish exposed Rydze’s credit-card purchase of “about $150,000 worth of HGH and testosterone — with a retail value approaching $1 million” from the Internet gray-market dealer Signature Pharmacy. (See http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/otl/news/story?id=3831956.)

And readers of this blog know what I think of Rydze’s surviving colleague, Dr. Joseph Maroon – Steelers’ team neurosurgeon, NFL concussion expert and spokesman, medical director of World Wrestling Entertainment, supplement entrepreneur and shill, and co-owner and point person of the ludicrously hyped ImPACT “concussion management software.”

I wonder what they talk about at NFL team physician conventions. In Paddy Chayefsky’s script for the 1971 movie The Hospital, another character says to the corrupt Dr. Welbeck: “Why, you shouldn’t be examined by a board of mere doctors. You should be investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission.”


Irv Muchnick

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick