John A. Bergfeld, MD, FAOA
Honored as an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession

John A. Bergfeld, MD, FAOA is being recognized as an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession for his leadership, mentoring, and lifelong contributions to orthopaedic surgery during his distinguished career. The champions for this effort on his behalf are Kevin P. Black, MD, FAOA and Vasilios (Bill) Moutzouros, MD, FAOA.


Dr. Bergfeld graduated from Bucknell University, where he played football. Then Temple University Medical School, where he met his wife, Wilma, a Practicing Dermatologist. His Sports Medicine career began as a “moonlighting” Intern. He served as a Team Physician for Wickliffe High School. He also founded the Cleveland Rugby Football Club during his internship. Rugby is now played in Cleveland-area High Schools, Universities, and Clubs – competing on both local and national levels. Sports Medicine was not a recognized specialty of Orthopaedics at the time, but thanks to Dr. Charles McCollister “Mac” Evarts’ vision, he was allowed to serve as the Team Physician for Cleveland State University and Case Institute of Technology during his Residency.

Dr. Bergfeld served in the U.S. Navy where he was the Chief of Orthopaedics at the US Naval Hospital in Annapolis, MD. Dr. Bergfeld also served as Surgeon aboard the USS Dubuque (LPD-8) during a Western Pacific Cruise. In addition to his surgical responsibilities, he served as Team Physician to the U.S. Naval Academy.

Upon returning to Cleveland after his Naval Service, he served as Team Physician to the Cleveland Browns (NFL) for 28 years, the Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA) for 15 years, the Cleveland Ballet for 15 years, and the US Nordic Ski team for 10 years. He has also served as Team Physician for Baldwin Wallace College (since 1996) and Cleveland Metropolitan Schools (since 1976).

Dr. Bergfeld has received many awards over the course of his career, most significantly:
– Induction into the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) Hall of Fame
– Induction into the US Naval Academy Sports Medicine Legacy Wall in Annapolis, MD
– Induction into the US Rugby Medical Hall of Fame
– AOSSM Mr. Sports Medicine
– National Football Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award
– Cleveland Clinic Master Educator Award
– Cleveland Clinic Outstanding Alumnus

Dr. Bergfeld has held many leadership positions during his career including:
– President of the American College of Sports Medicine (1984-1985)
– President of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (1992-1993)
– President of the International Society of Arthroscopy, Knee Surgery and Orthopaedic Sports Medicine (2005-2007)

He has presented multiple endowed lectures, visiting professorships both locally and internationally. He has over 70 publications, most important of which are:
– “Long-term results of nonoperative treatment of isolated posterior cruciate ligament injuries in the athlete” (American Journal of Sports Medicine)
– “A Biomedical comparison of ACL reconstruction techniques” (American Journal of Sports Medicine)
– “Acute Brachial Plexus injuries in athletes” (Orthopaedic Transactions)

In 1982, Dr. Bergfeld started The Cleveland Clinic Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Fellowship. In 1986, he added Primary Care Sports Fellows. More than 150 Fellows have been trained in this program.  Dr. Bergfeld is most proud of his role in educating and mentoring these Fellows, many of which have gone on to Academic Leadership positions serving as officers of their specialty societies, AMSSM, AOSSM, and ISAKOS, Department chair, and faculty. Most of his fellows currently serve as Team Physicians at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels – nationally and internationally.

The AOA gratefully acknowledges Dr. Bergfeld’s influential and significant contributions to the orthopaedic field and proudly recognizes him as an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession.


“John Bergfeld has been one of a small group of leaders that established and led the growth of orthopaedic sports medicine and has set the bar for what it means to be a team physician.  His commitment to integrity, excellence and advancing our understanding and treatment of the injured athlete is matched only by his support and mentoring of his fellows.  On behalf of the Warthog Society and your countless friends and colleagues I can only say congratulations and thank you!”

Kevin P. Black, MD, FAOA
Dr. Bergfeld’s Co-Champion

“Dr. Bergfeld is a pioneer in Sports Medicine, as well as a leader in Orthopaedic Surgery.  He was pivotal in creating the culture of an elite Orthopaedic Department.  At a time of change, he was a visionary on how to create a Comprehensive Sports Medicine program at the Cleveland Clinic.  His passion for education and leadership set a standard on what it means to be a Team Physician.  Dr. Bergfeld was inclusive and supportive of his Primary Care Sports Medicine colleagues, which allowed for integration and collaboration of these physicians in Sports Medicine Divisions.  His legacy will be the many fellows and residents he mentored, sponsored, motivated, and inspired to great heights in Orthopaedic Surgery leadership.  As a proud member of that cohort and the Warthog Society, congratulations and we are all forever indebted to you for your commitment to our growth.”

Vasilios (Bill) Moutzouros, MD, FAOA
Dr. Bergfeld’s Co-Champion

For a list of those who contributed to this Pillar honor, please click here.

If you are interested in becoming a Champion for an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession, you can find more information here.

Entire listing of AOA Pillars of the Orthopaedic Profession can be found here.