Dr. James Andrews: If football were invented today, it likely wouldn’t be allowed

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Dr. James Andrews, the legendary orthopedic surgeon who has treated scores of NFL players, believes football would be outlawed if someone invented the sport today, he told SI's Greg Bishop and Michael McKnight for their special report “Football in America.”

Andrews, 74, is busiest on the Mondays after weekend college football and NFL games, when he receives dozens of phone calls asking for him to help put injured players back together. The broken bodies leave Andrews, who still maintains football as his favorite sport, believing “contact sport” is a term that doesn't do football justice. 

“It’s a collision sport,” Andrews said. “If we started a new sport today and we wrote up the rules and regulations and we called it football, they probably wouldn’t allow it. We’re all trying to do everything we can to make football safer, but that’s the way the sport is: There are always going to be injuries. We’re aware of that, and we’re all working to keep it that way. We want it to continue, believe me.”

Andrews also said he has trouble convincing coaches to attend his injury–prevention events. 

Bishop and McKnight's full story, which seeks to understand how America really feels about football, is the longest and most comprehensive football piece ever published by Sports Illustrated. SI also conducted a Q&A with Andrews. 

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