Commissioner Goodell Appoints Esteemed Neurosurgeon
to Advance NFL’s Health and Safety Efforts
NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL today named DR. ALLEN SILLS as the NFL’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO), a new full-time position based in New York.
Dr. Sills joins the NFL from Vanderbilt University Medical Center where he serves as Professor of Neurological Surgery, Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation, and Founder and Co-Director of the Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center.
Dr. Sills, a neurosurgeon who has specialized in the treatment of athletes, will strengthen the NFL’s ongoing efforts to advance the health and safety of the sport. He will work closely with team medical staffs across the league, the NFL Players Association and its advisors and the many medical and scientific experts who comprise the NFL’s medical committees and guide the NFL’s health and research efforts.
“There is no higher priority for the NFL than player health and safety and we continually seek to raise our standards and then surpass them,” said Commissioner Goodell. “We sought a highly-credentialed physician and leader with experience as a clinician and researcher, and Dr. Sills’ extensive experience caring for athletes makes him the right choice for this important position.”
“We conducted an intensive international search which included many leading experts in sports medicine,” said Dr. John York, Co-chairman, San Francisco 49ers and Chairman of the NFL Owners’ Health and Safety Advisory Committee. “Dr. Sills stood out among the highly credentialed and qualified applicants.”
The appointment follows a rigorous search conducted by a premier panel of health and medical experts led by DR. BETSY NABEL, Chief Health and Medical Advisor to the NFL and President of Brigham Health, and including DR. ROB HEYER, President of the NFL Physicians Society and Team Internist for the Carolina Panthers, RONNIE BARNES, Senior Vice President, Medical Services and Head Athletic Trainer for the New York Giants, DR. ROBERT CANTU, Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery and Co-Director, Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, Boston University School of Medicine, and PETER FOSS, GE Healthcare.
The panel worked closely with DR. JOHN YORK, and JEFF MILLER, NFL Executive Vice President of Health and Safety Initiatives. The NFL consulted with the NFL Players Association, including interviewing the final candidates. Dr. Sills will be reporting to Miller.
“I have been impressed by the talent and experience of the candidates I have met during this process,” said Dr. Betsy Nabel. “Dr. Sills has years of experience on the frontlines of both research and patient care, and I am confident that Dr. Sills will use this platform to continue his work to improve sports health and safety in the NFL and for all athletes.”
"Hiring Dr. Sills is a touchdown for the NFL,” said Dr. Robert Cantu. “He is an international leader for his work on concussions in sports. I look forward to working with him to further advance the NFL's ongoing commitment to the health and safety of sports."
Throughout his distinguished career, Dr. Sills has worked with numerous professional and collegiate sports programs. In addition to providing care for players on NFL sidelines as an Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant, he has served as a neurological consultant to the NCAA and the International Equestrian Foundation (FEI). He has also worked as consulting neurosurgeon for the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies, the NHL’s Nashville Predators, the US Equestrian Foundation and all Vanderbilt University, Belmont University and Mississippi State University athletic teams.
“Allen Sills is an exceptional leader who will bring the perspective of a practicing neurosurgeon to this important position,” said Dr. Reid Thompson, Chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “He is an avid athlete and gifted surgeon with a passion for the care of elite athletes. With a combination of energy, vision and absolute integrity he is an inspired choice to become the first Chief Medical Officer of the NFL.”
Dr. Sills is an active researcher who has published more than 150 scientific articles and presentations including more than 40 in the last five years on the topic of sports concussion. He is a member of the Concussion in Sport Group, which publishes international standards regarding concussion in sport. Dr. Sills is also a fellow of the American Board of Neurological Surgery and the American College of Surgeons and currently serves as Section Editor for Sports and Rehabilitation for the journalNeurosurgery.
Previously, Dr. Sills has served as Founder and Executive Director, Memphis Regional Brain Tumor Center; Director of the Neuroscience Institute at Methodist University Hospital, Memphis; Associate Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee, Memphis and the Semmes-Murphey Clinic; and Chief, Division of Neurosurgery at the Memphis Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Dr. Sills graduated summa cum laude from Mississippi State University with a degree in engineering and received his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, where he also completed his internship in General Surgery, his residency training in Neurological Surgery and an NIH-funded Neuro-Oncology Fellowship.
Dr. Sills and his wife Shawne live in Tennessee and have four children. He serves on the Board of Directors for Make-A-Wish Foundation of Middle Tennessee, the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County Tennessee and has served as a youth baseball coach for more than 20 years.
About Play Smart. Play Safe.
In September 2016, Commissioner Goodell launched Play Smart. Play Safe.—an initiative to drive progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of head injuries, enhance medical protocols and further improve the way the game is taught and played. As part of the initiative, the NFL and its 32 club owners pledged $100 million to help spur independent medical research and engineering advancements. For more information about the initiative, please visit www.PlaySmartPlaySafe.com.