During a recent Tuesday afternoon, two board certified orthopedic surgeons from the Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso huddled prior to their next procedure that would force both to access their many combined years of experience.

With a countdown – 3, 2, 1 – it begins with the push of a button.

Drs. Evan D. Corning and Rajiv Rajani lean into a microphone that will record another episode of their “Football is in Their Bones” fantasy football podcast.

The second-year program allows the two instructors at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso to share their medical knowledge and passion for football with fellow fantasy owners who could benefit from their perspectives on the reported players’ injuries.

“I could sit around and talk about college football and the NFL all day, but no one will pay me to do that,” joked Corning, who specializes in orthopedics sports medicine and is the team physician of the El Paso Locomotive FC soccer team.

Rajani, 45, a self-described “couch potato” from Detroit, is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Rehabilitation. Corning, 34, is an assistant professor in the same department. The Houston native participated in organized team sports from childhood through his undergraduate years. Their branch of medicine deals with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles. Both joined TTUHSCEP in 2021.

The two orthopedists are among the more than 29 million Americans who participate in fantasy football, which is the country’s most played fantasy sport, according to Statisa, a statistics portal. A 2022 Morning Consult analysis found that 82% of respondents who participated in the past year in any fantasy sport – approximately 50.4 million people – played fantasy football.

For those unfamiliar with basic fantasy football, here is the two-minute drill.

Participants, known as owners, choose NFL players – a combination of quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends and kickers as well as a team’s defense – during a pre-season draft and select a game lineup weekly based on their rosters. The players earn points as they run, pass, catch and score touchdowns. They also lose points for fumbles and interceptions. The teams with the most wins at the end of the season continue into the playoffs.

Owners can change their lineups based on their rosters, trades or acquisitions off discarded players from other teams. The insights from Rajani and Corning, who have owned fantasy football teams for 27 and more than 15 years, respectively, can make some of those decisions easier.

Northeast resident Alfonso Chacon, a fantasy football owner for 12 years, said he appreciated the doctors’ insights, and the show’s brevity. While the programs average about 17 minutes, he would be happy if they ran longer if the content was as good.

Chacon, 54, has told his family members who play in his leagues about the podcast, but he doesn’t plan to tell anyone else.

“It’s like the insights that they share are a secret and I don’t want others to know about (the show),” he said.

Anthony Tuialuuluu, a fantasy footballer for more than 10 years, started to listen to the podcast before the start of this season. The Central resident said the show’s information   helps him make player decisions.

“I like their opinions as doctors and as fans of the game,” said Tuialuuluu, 42, who played football and basketball at Ysleta High School. “It’s like what you would hear in a lunchroom.”

The conversations between Rajani and Corning do come across as two friends at the water cooler, but their banter includes insights into the possible seriousness of an injury as well as possible remedies and rehabilitation times. The show’s host, Aaron Bracamontes, a senior editor with the center’s Office of Institutional Advancement, includes a disclaimer in every podcast that the physicians do not work with any of the NFL teams and will not offer any official diagnoses.

The trio record their shows on a laptop on Tuesday afternoons in a lounge within the Institutional Advancement offices. The material is edited Wednesdays by the team’s multimedia specialist Idaly Tiscareno and the podcast is available Thursday mornings, but the team is working to release the episodes sooner.

Rajani said he and Bracamontes pitched similar podcast concepts independently in early 2022 to Institutional Advancement leaders. The show’s niche would be to explain injuries in laymen’s terms to help fantasy football owners to make player personnel decisions. The idea played into the institution’s goal to educate the community whether the diagnosis explanations are for orthopedic patients or fantasy football owners.

The reach of the podcast was unclear. Bracamontes said that each show averages about 25 visitors not including the social media traffic. The doctors, dressed in scrubs, tennis shoes and white lab coats, said that regardless of the listenership, they do the show because they enjoy it.

Bracamontes said that there are discussions about ways to enhance and expand the podcast to include audience questions, a live call-in segment, and to take the program beyond the football season to include other professional sports as well as community athletic activities such as the El Paso Marathon.

“It’s an evolving podcast,” Bracamontes said.

Higher education reporter for El Paso Matters in partnership with Open Campus.