OAK RIDGE, N.C. - Kip Alan Corrington didn’t choose football. It chose him.
"I grew up in Texas, and if you can run at all and you're from Texas, you play football,” he said, jokingly.
Although he laughs about it today, during his playing days, he was a serious force on the field. Corrington played at Texas A&M as a safety, where he earned First-Team Academic All-America honors in 1985, 1986 and 1987 while helping lead the team to two Cotton Bowl wins.
After completing his collegiate career, he entered the draft.
"That was a fascinating experience, not only draft day itself, but the whole process of finding an agent and it's a different world that's for sure,” he said.
He was drafted by the Detroit Lions, but due to a knee injury he’d suffered in college, he ended up failing to meet their medical qualifications.
"So, I got traded to Denver. Thank goodness,” Corrington said with a smile.
Corrington’s time in the NFL was highlighted by a trip to Super Bowl XXIV, where the Broncos took on the San Francisco 49ers. Unfortunately for him, the 49ers were the ones who put together a highlight reel.
"We hold the distinction of getting beat by the most points ever in the Super Bowl, but we were there,” he said, of the 55-10 loss. "It was a great year, it was exciting, to win the [conference] championship at home was great."
After three knee surgeries, multiple shoulder surgeries and a high ankle sprain, Corrington decided it was time to hang up the cleats.
"By that time, I'd been beat up pretty good, didn't run as well as I did when I first got in the league,” he said.
Corrington then took a route back to Texas A&M, where he got a Ph.D. and was contemplating becoming a teacher. But he made a different call.
"Instead of hitting and hurting people you want to try to help them,” he said.
Corrington transitioned to family medicine, and today, he’s a general practitioner at Novant Health Northwest Family Medicine in Oak Ridge.
Having started practicing in 2001, Corrington has a better understanding of some of the lingering effects from professional football.
"I also had multiple concussions, I know that's a big topic these days and at the time we didn't have any idea what that meant,” he detailed, adding that he hasn’t suffered any long-term consequences from them.
But he knows others who have.
"A lot of the guys I played with, contemporaries, have had serious problems,” Corrington said. “Some of them have committed suicide, so it's kind of always in the back of your mind."
In Corrington’s opinion, improved helmets and proper technique won’t stop the problem of concussions in football.
"The thing about not leading with your head, that might help some, but as fast as things happen on a football field, your head's gonna get hit -- a lot,” he said.
Today, as Kip Alan Corrington, M.D., he says although football gave him some of his greatest memories, the best decision he’s ever made was trading in the 100 yards of the gridiron, for the 100-or-so patients he sees every week.
"It's a privilege to become part of their lives and to help them out,” Corrington said. “I love what I do."
Corrington was inducted into the Texas A&M Hall of Fame in 2018.