Stevie Brown’s ACL Surgery: 63 Minutes to a New Knee

GULF BREEZE, Fla. — Dressed in cerulean blue scrubs and white rubber boots, the most well-known orthopedic surgeon in America exits Operating Room Number 3 at the Andrews Institute, where athletes from all sports come to have their careers saved. James Andrews has just finished saving another one, that of Giants safety Stevie Brown.
Before he can take a bite of his post-surgery blueberry muffin, Andrews makes a call to Giants team physician Russell Warren. He gets Warren’s voicemail.
“Hey, Russ. Jim Andrews. Stevie Brown’s down here. I just got through doing his ACL.”
Brown had torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in a preseason game 12 days earlier on one of those all-too-common awkward plants. He commissioned Andrews to replace the small but critical bridge of tissue between the tibia (shin) and femur (thigh) bone that, when torn, instantly ends an athlete’s season.
ACL surgery is ubiquitous in sports. But what do most of us really know about it? Do we know it involves a power drill boring into leg bone? Do we know that so much cleansing saline solution is pumped into the knee during surgery that Andrews wears calf-length all-weather boots in the operating room? Do we know the ligament can be reconstructed—at least in this case—in just 63 minutes?
That’s what happened inside an operating room in northern Florida on Sept. 5. Brown allowed The MMQB behind the scenes to chronicle one of the most critical and intimidating days of an athlete’s career. Andrews and his team of six medical professionals carved, probed, debrided, drilled and screwed inside Brown’s left knee joint—this common surgery nothing short of incredibly complex