The Art of Sports Medicine

An interview with Pepper Burruss, Head Athletic Trainer/Physical Therapist of the Green Bay Packers.

Pepper Burruss has always liked sports. However his modest athletic gifts kept him from getting much playing time. A self-described "MacGyver" he used his off-the-field inventiveness to achieve on-the-field results. And it worked. Even though he once had trouble getting on to a Pop Warner football team, he is now the Head Athletic Trainer of the Green Bay Packers- one of the largest and most successful sports franchises in the world.

"I liked to make things," he said during a visit in his museum-like office at Lambeau Field. "When I began, Sports Medicine was a new field and there were no established career track to follow. I was in largely unchartered territory." Nevertheless he had some significant help along the way. He credits his undergraduate education at Purdue University and later from Bob Reece who gave him his first job as an assistant athletic trainer with the New York Jets.

But most of his guidance and inspiration came from another direction. While in graduate school at Northwestern University, he asked Jesus Christ into his life. Happily his future wife Nancy was offering a similar prayer on the other side of town. Shortly thereafter they began their NFL adventure together.

To young people beginning their own adventure Pepper offers this advice: "discover your passion and pursue it." Although he did not know where his decisions would lead, he could control how he lived and to trust God for the rest. This is not a deterministic fatalism, but rather a realistic acceptance of how things really are. One that has served him well in his profession too. "Sports medicine is not so much a specialty as it is a philosophy," Pepper said. "My job is to keep an athlete entertained while God does the healing."

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