From the Jays to the KC Chiefs for Dr. Michael Monaco
Monday, September 16, 2013
Dr. Michael Monaco has moved to the sidelines from his high school football career many years ago.
But that’s not all that’s changed. Monaco’s focus also has shifted from winning games to keeping players in good health.
Monaco, a former captain of the Jefferson City High School Jays football team, is in his 19th season as team physician for the Kansas City Chiefs, caring for players on the sidelines and on the road all season long.
“I’ve seen the good, the bad and hopefully the good again,” Monaco said. “It’s been a great, fun career to have.”
Monaco, who graduated from Jefferson City High School in 1980, said he became the team physician in 1994, after being asked to take on the responsibility a second time. He said he was offered the job in 1991, but turned it down because of financial reasons and other responsibilities. When the job was offered again, Monaco said he was happy to be able to take it.
As team physician, Monaco said his job is to make sure the Chiefs players are safe to play.
“We deal with all their health problems,” Monaco said. “On game day ... make sure they don’t get dehydrated ... we’re also on the sidelines.”
From being poked in the eye to any potential neurological issues, Monaco treats and examines the players, whether it’s at their home stadium or on the road.
Being on the road, Monaco traveled quite a bit while his two children were growing up. But though he may have been gone some times, he said his children enjoyed Monaco’s job as team physician.
“It’s a double-edged sword,” Monaco said.
Both children also are following closely behind their father, though in different ways. Monaco said his 22-year-old son is in medical school and his 25-year-old daughter is in her third year as a Chiefs cheerleader.
Monaco said he remains in touch with former Jays coach Pete Atkins, who also is close with Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid.
“(Reid’s) mentor is Pete Atkins,” Monaco said. “I think it really helped my relationship with Coach Reid because of Pete.”
Aside from keeping athletes healthy and in playing shape, Monaco also works in private practice and teaches at the UMKC School of Medicine.
“All of them have great experiences and great memories for me,” Monaco said. “(But) the privilege of being able to participate in the care of professional athletes ... to me it’s a privilege to know them personally and provide their care.”
On game days, Monaco said the atmosphere in the locker room and on the field is fueled with adrenaline and an incredible experience to have on a regular basis.
“The first couple years, I’d just look and almost pinch myself and say ‘I can’t believe I’m standing here,’” Monaco said. “Now, sadly, I’m becoming one of the old, seasoned doctors, so it’s kind of more second nature. Everyone in the league knows who I am.”
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