Second Act: John Frank reaches goal to become physician

A number of football players have retired and become physicians. However, John Frank might be the only one who switched to medicine while at the pinnacle of his football life.

Frank is best known for his five-year career with the San Francisco 49ers. He was one of quarterback Joe Montana's clutch targets, catching 65 passes with 10 touchdowns on two Super Bowl-winning teams.

But those accomplishments never were Frank's goal while playing college football at Penn State.

"I became interested in medicine at an early age," Frank said of his "Second Act," the fourth part in an "NFL AM" series about former NFL players who have found success off the field. "So when I went to college, it really wasn't my goal to be drafted or be noticed. It wasn't even a consideration."

This explains why Franks abruptly retired after the 49ers won Super Bowl XXIII in 1989 and enrolled in medical school.

"My objective was to fulfill my potential as an athlete, and I was still developing when I got to the 49ers," said Frank, a 1984 second-round draft pick. "But I didn't want to do that at the expense of sacrificing my medical career.

"It was a struggle to play that fifth year. Nobody knew the academic peril I was facing. Just as luck has it, we win the Super Bowl that year."

At first, Frank specialized in ear, nose and throat patients. He now works in New York mainly on hair and scalp surgery at the Anapelli Hair Clinic.

"Those lessons as an NFL player were extremely valuable," he said. "I certainly miss those days. I miss the camaraderie.

"Winning the Super Bowl is a precious moment, and it's really difficult to match that."

-- Bill Bradley, contributing editor

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