Meet Dr. Robert Bersin, a Seattle cardiologist. From heart-valve replacements to a number of catheter-based procedures, the 61-year-old has built a reputation by caring for the ticker. His heart will be beating as fast as anybody’s watching his son play in the Super Bowl.

Share story

In the fourth quarter of a 2014 game with the season on the line, Carolina Panthers receiver Brenton Bersin leaped high for a pass from Cam Newton. But upon catching it, Bersin realized in mid-air that his momentum toward the sideline would allow him to get only one foot inbounds.

Knowing he would need another body part to touch the ground for the pass to be ruled complete, he scraped the ball on the turf (the ball is an extension of the hand). Carolina’s drive continued, the Panthers scored the go-ahead touchdown and eventually won their division by a half-game.

If you didn’t know who Brenton Bersin was before that little tale, you’re not alone. The 25-year-old has just 22 receptions in his two NFL seasons. And if you’re wondering how Bersin was able to combine intelligence with the use of his hands in such an impactful way — that’s easy. He got it from his dad.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Dr. Robert Bersin, a cardiologist at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle. Dr. Bersin has never ever saved anybody’s football season, but he has made a career out of saving lives.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

From heart-valve replacements to a number of catheter-based procedures, the 61-year-old has built a renowned reputation by caring for the ticker. But Sunday, his heart will be beating as fast as anybody’s in Levi’s Stadium.

“As a parent, you’re always nervous, you want him to do well. You don’t want him to make some error or be the deciding factor in the game,” Bersin said. “But at the same time, it’s extremely exciting. To think that he could win a Super Bowl ring is kind of unbelievable.”

It’s particularly hard to fathom given how Brenton played college ball at Wofford, which hasn’t produced an NFL draftee in 57 years. Brenton wasn’t selected, either, but he did find his way onto the Panthers’ roster as an undrafted free agent in 2013.

Part of this opportunity had to do with the fact that Brenton was neighbors with Panthers owner Jerry Richardson as a child. But he still had to earn his spot on the roster.

Now, he gets to wear that No. 11 Bersin jersey every time the Panthers play. Which is funny — because his dad wears the exact same thing.

Dr. Bersin didn’t even play high-school football, but he has been a Panthers fan for more than two decades. Before moving to Seattle, he raised Brenton in Charlotte alongside his ex-wife.

Tuesday, Bersin wondered aloud if a physician’s son has ever won a Super Bowl, and, well, that’s probably not unprecedented. But a physician’s son who played in a Super Bowl for his favorite team growing up? That may end up being a first.

If you’re wondering if Brenton ever attempted to follow in his father’s line of work, that would be a no. Despite playing the country’s most violent sport on the highest level, Brenton confessed “I couldn’t deal with the blood.”

That didn’t disappoint his dad in the least, though. Ever since Brenton ran out onto the field in his first preseason game as a Panther, Dr. Bersin has been a perpetual fount of pride.

It isn’t uncommon to see photos of Brenton’s catches posted throughout the hospital. Bersin even said that, just before he heads out to Santa Clara Friday, he may sneak a “Go Panthers!” banner into the operating room. And it’s not just him who has gotten caught up in his son’s success — it’s the entire workplace.

Bersin said he can’t even go to the cafeteria without being bombarded with congratulations these days. Woody Rose, the hospital’s food-services manager, said that Bersin gets swarmed whenever he comes down for a bite.

People find his joy contagious. Seeing Bersin happy makes them happy. With Brenton in uniform, this particular group of Seattleites can find a reason to forget about what Newton did to the 12th Man flag and let bygones be bygones.

“Actually,” said Rose, “we’re all happy for Dr. Bersin, but most people are rooting for Denver.”