At the NFL Physicians Society's annual Scientific Meeting and Symposium, Panthers head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion won the Fain-Cain Memorial Award for Outstanding NFL Athletic Trainer of the Year and team orthopedist Dr. Robert B. Anderson won the Jerry "Hawk" Rhea Award as outstanding NFL physician courtesy of the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society.
Vermillion has served as an athletic trainer in the NFL for 24 years. He started as a Director of Rehabilitation for the Miami Dolphins and later with the Washington Redskins. He has served as the Panthers' head athletic trainer for 14 years.
"One thing that separated Ryan apart from others, particularly early in his career, was the fact that he was both a highly experienced athletic trainer but also a certified physical therapist," said Dr. Patrick M. Connor, head team physician for the Panthers, who presented the award. "He was a physical therapist after graduating from University of Miami for several years before joining the Dolphins. And based on his physical therapy and rehabilitation experience combined with his athletic training acumen, it isn't a surprise he has had notable rehabilitation successes throughout his NFL career."
Through the combined efforts of the NFL and Gatorade, Vermillion works with the board of the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society to provide grant programs for athletic trainers, and he assists with an athletic training initiative for high schools and an athletic trainer outreach program. He also endeavors to enhance athlete safety at underserved high schools.
The Fain-Cain Award is named for Dr. Thomas E. Cain, M.D., and Dr. Robert H. Fain, M.D., both long-time team physicians for the Houston Oilers. The award was established shortly after Dr. Cain's death and Dr. Fain's retirement. The award is given annually to an NFL athletic trainer who best reflects the virtues of a certified athletic trainer and displays the highest level of professionalism.
Dr. Anderson is the founding member of the Foot & Ankle Institute at OrthoCarolina and served as past president of the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society. In addition to his role with the Panthers, Anderson is a consultant to numerous collegiate and professional teams. He was awarded 2015 "Top Doctor" by Charlotte Magazine and was recognized as "Top Doctor" the previous year by the Charlotte Business Journal. Anderson received his B.S. from University of Mississippi and his M.D. from the Medical College of Wisconsin.
The Jerry "Hawk" Rhea Award is given annually to the NFL team physician who has made the greatest contributions to both the NFL and the profession of athletic training. Rhea was the head athletic trainer for the Atlanta Falcons from 1969 until 1994 and worked as assistant to the president of the Falcons from 1994-2001.
Dr. Anderson (from left), Dr. Connor and Vermillion during practice for Super Bowl 50.