Former Panthers safety Damien Richardson enjoyed (most of) his seven seasons in Charlotte but he knew as a young player that he eventually would trade his helmet and shoulder pads for a surgical mask and gown.
“Football was never the end game for me,” says Richardson, a Los Angeles native. “I would never minimize how great my experience was in the NFL because it was fantastic. I put my heart into it. I have no bitterness toward it. However, at the end of the day, I knew I was going to be a doctor.”
Richardson attended Arizona State on a football scholarship and was a team captain and three-year starter. Nicknamed “The Professor” by his teammates, he majored in bio engineering with an emphasis in mechanical engineering. He also had time to fulfill his pre-medicine requirements.
“I decided that I wanted to do something a little different with the degree,” says Dr. Richardson. “I really gravitated toward the patient care part of medicine.”
Richardson was surprised when the Panthers drafted him on the sixth round in 1998. He played defense and special teams, including on the Panthers Super Bowl XXXVIII team, but a pair of injuries in consecutive years persuaded him that operating on patients as an orthopedic surgeon was more attractive than actually being the patient.
Richardson received a medical degree from the University of California-San Francisco and then a Master’s degree in public health from Harvard University where he completed a foot and ankle fellowship.
Dr. Richardson, 43, last year joined the Newport Orthopedic Institute in Newport Beach, California and lives in Orange County with his wife and three children.
We at NFL Alumni are proud that Dr. Richardson is a member of OUR NFL family and wish him only success in his new medical environment.