David Chao

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Dr. David Chao
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BornMarch 26, 1964
EducationHarvard University
M.D. Northwestern University
OccupationOrthopedic Surgeon, Entrepreneur, Football Injury Analyst

David J. Chao, M.D. (born March 26, 1964) is a sports medicine expert and a practicing orthopedic surgeon[1] who was board certified with a Subspecialty Certification in Sports Medicine and practices at OasisMD in San Diego. He specializes in orthopedic sports injuries. He is the founder and principal of ProFootballDoc, a service that provides football fans with real-time insight and analysis into National Football League injuries.[2]

Biography and academic career

Chao attended Harvard University for his undergraduate degree and later received his medical degree from Northwestern University in 1989.

Business career

Chao served as the Head Team Physician for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers for 17 years - from 1997-2013.[3] Chao performed 204 surgeries on NFL players over ten years from 2003-2013.[4]

He has served as a team physician for sports teams and events, including the X Games,[5] USA Sevens Rugby Team, and local high schools and universities. Chao has also been a medical consultant for the WWE and a host physician for the USA Olympic Committee. His patients have included professional athletes Junior Seau, Marshall Faulk, Doug Flutie, Tony Hawk, Philip Rivers, LaDanian Tomlinson and Drew Brees.

Chao is the founder and President of the SDSMF (San Diego Sports Medicine Foundation), which provides a medical safety net for youth with limited financial means.[6] He is a past or current member of several community organizations, including the San Diego International Sports Council, Junior Seau Foundation, Wells Fargo Bank Community Board, and San Diego Chargers Community Foundation. He has been a member of the NFL Physicians Society, American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and an Assistant Clinical Instructor at UCSD.

Chao is an elected member of the ACL Study Group.[7] He has developed orthopedic products and patents for medical products including the Arthrex TissueTak and Biomet Juggerknot.[8]


Dr Chao was awarded the Ernest H. Wright Humanitarian award at the Salute to the Champions dinner on January 31, 2019 by the San Diego Sports Association.[9] He was also honored with the Charlie Joiner Winning Spirit award in 2006.

Injury Predictions

Chao is also known as The Pro Football Doc on Twitter.[10] He provides opinions on the severity of football injuries in real-time via video analysis.[11] He serves as the official sports medical analyst for SiriusXM, writes a weekly feature on football injuries for the LA Times/ SD Union-Tribune[12] and is also a regular contributor to a football betting podcast.[13] Chao has been named the official injury expert for the online betting platform FanDuel.[14] He has been featured on CBS Sports Radio, National Football Post, "More Ways To Win" on the TVG Network and FOX Sports Radio. In 2019, Chao launched a subscription service at profootballdoc.com [15], including a Weekly Injury Index that provides a view of each football team’s relative health.


Chao's career has included controversy.

In 2010, San Diego based DEA agents performed an administrative inspection of the team facilities and doctor's offices of the Padres and Chargers.[16] The inquiry of the professional sports teams in the area was initiated two weeks after Chargers safety Kevin Ellison was charged in Los Angeles with illegally possessing 100 Vicodin painkiller pills.[17] The initial record review of the pharmacy SportPharm implicated Chao in writing 108 prescriptions for himself since 2008. It was later determined the prescriptions were for player and patient use and the Vicodin possessed by Ellison was not provided by the team or its doctors.  After its investigation, the DEA said it did not believe Chao was using the medications for himself and there were no penalties enforced.[18] The DEA did ask the NFL to change the way that it handled its pain medication. SportPharm lost its license over the record-keeping issue.[19]

In 2012 the National Football League Players Association formally requested an Article 50 review of Chao’s qualifications. Three independent doctors appointed by the NFL and NFLPA unanimously ruled in his favor.[20] Philip Rivers and player union representative Nick Hardwick spoke out in support of Dr. Chao. He remained the Chargers head team physician until he voluntarily stepped down in 2013.[21]

In 2016, there was a California Medical Board inquiry into Dr. David Chao in relation to his prescription of the sleep medication Ambien to Junior Seau. The state coroner's office exonerated Dr. Chao of any role in Seau’s death, but the medical board put him on probation for several years.[22]


  1. https://health.usnews.com/doctors/david-chao-529254
  2. LoRé, Michael. "The Rise Of Dr. David Chao AKA Pro Football Doc". Forbes.
  3. "Chargers doctor David Chao steps down". San Diego Union-Tribune. 2013-06-14.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. "Chargers doctor David Chao steps down". San Diego Union-Tribune. 2013-06-14.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. "Who Is Kevin Robinson?". ESPN.com. 2012-07-10. Retrieved 2020-10-07.
  6. "San Diego Sports Medicine Foundation". www.sdsmf.com. Retrieved 2020-10-07.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. "The Anterior Cruciate Ligament Study Group (ACL)". www.aclstudygroup.com. Retrieved 2020-10-07.
  8. "David J. Chao Inventions, Patents and Patent Applications - Justia Patents Search". patents.justia.com. Retrieved 2020-10-07.
  9. "San Diego Sports Association". www.facebook.com.
  10. "David J. Chao (@ProFootballDoc) | Twitter". twitter.com.
  11. "Dr. David Chao".
  12. "ProFootballDoc - The San Diego Union-Tribune". San Diego Union-Tribune.
  13. "‎Pro Football Doc Podcast: 29: Under Center With Clay Travis on Apple Podcasts". Apple Podcasts.
  14. "FanDuel Announces Exclusive Partnership With ProFootballDoc". theduel.com.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-25/ex-nfl-doctor-s-new-career-helping-gamblers-analyze-injuries
  16. "DEA: Chargers' MD wrote 108 prescriptions to self". San Diego Union-Tribune.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. "DEA sheds light on investigation into Chargers doctor Chao". www.nfl.com.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. "DEA: Chargers doctor not suspected of med use". ESPN.com. 2010-07-15.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  19. "Pharmacy: Chargers doctor did not write illegal prescriptions". www.nfl.com.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. "San Diego Chargers doctor exonerated after NFLPA review". NFL.com.
  21. "Chargers doctor David Chao steps down". San Diego Union-Tribune. June 14, 2013.
  22. Schrotenboer, Brent. "Former NFL doctor gets probation in Junior Seau case". USA TODAY.

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