As a Hopkins football player and 1984 alumnus, Dr. Andrew Cappuccino never came close to a career in the NFL after graduation. On Sept. 9, however, he put his Hopkins education and love of football to good use and might have saved a young NFL player’s life.
Kevin Everett, a second-year tight end for the Buffalo Bills who played college football at the University of Miami, suffered an upper level cervical spine fracture during the Bills’ season-opener against the Denver Broncos.
While trying to tackle Broncos kick returner Domenik Hixon on the second half kickoff, Everett collapsed on the field, unable to move any of his limbs. If not for the quick thinking of Cappuccino and the rest of the Bills’ medical staff, nottack only Everett’s football career, but his life, could have ended right there on the 20-yard line of Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Cappuccino performed multiple procedures on Everett including limited hypothermia therapy, a procedure not usually performed when dealing with limited paralysis.
The induced hypothermia dropped Everett’s body temperature to 91.4 degrees Fahrenheit and increased his chances of survival and successful recovery.
“In hindsight, it was the only option,” Cappuccino said when asked about his decision to use a somewhat controversial procedure. “I made him a promise I would do everything I could in my power.”
Dr. Cappuccino also performed the necessary emergency decompressive surgery to relax Everett’s spinal cord and stabilize the spine.
“Everything that could possibly be done to spare his neurological status was done,” Cappuccino said in a press conference after the surgery had been performed. “The time frame was more expeditious than anyone could even hope for.”
Cappuccino, who was a defensive back on the Hopkins football squad from 1980-1983 and a teammate of current head coach Jim Margraff on the 1981 team that set a school wins record at 7-2, credits his time at Hopkins for helping him as a doctor and with handling the fragile situation with Kevin Everett.
“It was pretty clear when I went to medical school that my undergraduate education prepared me well,” Cappuccino said. “The quality of education I received at Hopkins was amazing and I really learned the ability to think.”
Even though Cappuccino graduated from Hopkins with a B.A. in Material Science and a B.E.S. in Biomedical Engineering, it is clear the Phi Gamma Delta brother did not spend all his time buried in the books. Cappucino was known around campus as a respected, likeable student-athlete, qualities which haven’t changed to this day.
“Those are by far the best four years of my pre-married life,” Cappuccino said.
“He and his three other roommates were about as much fun as you can have on a college campus,” Coach Margraff said of his former teammate. “The entire team was very close and he was a great guy.”
For all the fun Margraff, Cappuccino and the rest of the team had, Margraff has always known what the rest of the football world now knows: Dr. Cappuccino is the doctor you want overseeing your spinal care while on the football field.
As a college football coach, the injury to Kevin Everett is hard for Margraff to even think about.
“That’s any coach’s worst nightmare,” Margraff said. “It’s a sinking feeling that’s indescribable.”
No coach wants to see his player in Kevin Everett’s position, because it usually means a life confined to a wheelchair. The fact that Kevin Everett might be able to walk again, therefore, can’t be questioned as anything other than an absolute miracle.
Not one for all of the attention, Dr. Cappuccino deflects the praise.
“It’s not about me but about a new technology that can help so many people, athletes and non-athletes alike,” he said.
Dr. Cappuccino may be modest about his achievements in the medical field, but there is no denying that he is carrying on the good name of Hopkins athletes.
Saving lives while being employed by an NFL team? Nothing could be better than that for a former Hopkins football star.