Mark Andrews: Tight End & Type 1 Diabetes Extraordinaire

Mark Andrews: Tight End & Type 1 Diabetes Extraordinaire - One Drop

The Baltimore Ravens had quite the 2019 season. While they’re not making it to Super Bowl LIV, they provided fans with perhaps the greatest 3 months in Ravens football history. Their regular season (and post) is already being lauded by fans as something of legend.

As with any legacy team, there are multiple faces and facets involved. The most celebrated on this 2019 Ravens team? Lamar Jackson, who was just named the NFL’s MVP.

Another, just as crucial part of this legacy team is Ravens’ tight end, #89 Mark Andrews. Last year, he had the most reception yards (552) by a tight end in a rookie season and made the longest regular season reception (74 yards) by a tight end. In his second year with the Ravens, Andrews scored the most touchdown receptions by a tight end in a season.

He’s also setting another lesser-known, unacknowledged record. Mark Andrews is crushing these NFL stats while tackling type 1 diabetes.

Mark Andrews: Type 1 Diabetes Career Stats

Mark Andrews didn’t always have his sights set on the NFL. At a young age, he knew he wanted to be a professional athlete of some sort, but thought he’d end up playing soccer or basketball.

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It was during his soccer games (where he learned the footwork and agility he uses today) at age 9 that Mark was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

He remembers, vividly, having to take an alarming amount of breaks to go to the bathroom. His dad, a doctor, knew something was wrong.

Upon diagnosis, Mark understood that his life was going to change forever. But it didn’t mean he couldn’t give up his sports dreams. The weekend after his diagnosis, Mark was back on the soccer field, scoring 3 goals and winning the tournament for his team.

“I remember going to the bathroom like four times during a soccer game. I wasn't able to complete a half without having to run to the bathroom, so my parents knew something was up."

By the end of 8th grade, Andrews decided to take his athletic abilities to the football field. It was evident, very early on, that Mark had a knack for football.

He went on to play for the Oklahoma Sooners in college, where he broke all sorts of records and received the The Mackey Award, given to the best tight end in the country each year.

A third round draft pick by the Baltimore Ravens in 2018, Andrews is already breaking records in the NFL. And all of this, while executing incredible management stats for his type 1 diabetes.

Thriving with Diabetes

Usually, Mark doses his insulin via pump. On game days, though, he switches to pens. He wears his Dexcom (fellow teammate Orlando Brown, Jr. follows Mark’s Dexcom data) at all times to keep an eye on blood sugars, but prefers finger pricks during games.

Plus, he maintains a relatively low carb way of eating (lots of eggs and peanut butter!), especially leading up to games to keep blood sugars tight. To date, Mark has never missed a practice or game because of his diabetes.

"I tell this to everybody: Diabetes is incredibly difficult, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’ve had people tell me I can’t do things and doubt me, whatever it may be, because of my diabetes. So I’ve used it to kind of fuel me and just shape who I am as a person.”

Andrews isn’t the first NFL player with diabetes. But he’s definitely the most outspoken. In fact, one of his life goals is to help others excel with their diabetes management.

Type 1 diabetes is something that’s very “near and dear” to Andrews; it’s become his personal mission to let others know that it is not something that should ever stop them from giving up on their dreams, and he’s using his NFL platform to do just that.

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His ultimate weapon for diabetes management? Knowledge. Andrews keeps a vigilant watch on blood sugars.

”The main thing for me is, knowledge is power… the biggest thing is knowing.”

The Ravens season may be over for the year, but be on the lookout for this tight end next season and beyond. Mark Andrews will be making moves on and off the field for years to come.

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Mary Elizabeth Adams
Jan 16, 2020

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