Dr. Ernest Cole Brock, Jr., a longtime physician for the Alabama Crimson Tide and the creator of a sports medicine lecture series for the College of Community Health Sciences, passed away on Nov. 5 at his home in Tuscaloosa. He was 91.
Brock was an orthopedic surgeon who practiced in Tuscaloosa for many years, in addition to serving as a physician for the Alabama football team.
He and his wife, Hannah Brock, created The Ernest Cole Brock III Endowment for Continuing Medical Education at the College to support a lecture series on treating concussions and other athletic injuries. They created the fund to honor the memory of their son Ernest Cole Brock III who died in 1999 at the age of 36. The inaugural lecture was held in January 2013.
Brock grew up in Fairfield, Alabama. In 1943, at age 18, he entered the United States Air Force and fought as a gunner in 32 combat missions in Guam and Japan. After he returned to the US, he accepted a scholarship to play football at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.
Brock had plans to be a football coach and a science teacher, but after he suffered a career-ending leg injury during his second year of college, he decided to pursue medical school. He received his medical degree from Wake Forest University and then completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at University Hospital in Birmingham (now UAB Hospital).
After residency, he joined the hospital’s staff and served as the physician for high school football players at Legion Field.
“[Orthopedic surgery] is a good field to be in,” Brock said to the College in a 2014 interview. “Most of the patients are young and can heal.”
Brock later formed an orthopedic surgery and sports medicine practice in Tuscaloosa and began traveling as a surgeon with the Crimson Tide and head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.
“I enjoyed working for the team, and Coach Bryant was nice to work for,” Brock said.
For 25 years, Brock was the team orthopedist for Alabama. He also served as an orthopedic preceptor for the College, training residents and medical students on the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions. He practiced in Tuscaloosa until he retired in 1992.
Dr. James Robinson, chair of Sports Medicine, team physician for Alabama and an alumnus of the College’s Residency, said Brock was a mentor to him when he was training.
“Dr. Brock’s legacy to CCHS will be maintained by the annual lecture series that bears his name and by the continuation of the physician care of the athletic department through the deShazo Sports Medicine Clinic,” he said.
Brock’s funeral was held Nov. 9 at Calvary Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa.