Behind The Team: Pepper Burruss

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Every time the Packers take the field, whether it's for a June mini-camp practice or a crucial NFC North showdown in December, one man is always there keeping his watchful eye on every move of each man in Green and Gold. Head trainer Pepper Burruss doesn't miss a thing as he and his staff work to keep every member of the team in full health.

While you may not recognize his name, Burruss, who is entering his 28th season in the NFL, is a familiar face to all Packers fans.

He's the first man on the scene whenever a player goes down with an injury and has been on the sideline for every Packers game since 1993, when he joined the team following 16 seasons with the New York Jets.

Burruss has been recognized as being at the top of his field, first as part of the Jets staff that won the inaugural 'NFL Athletic Training Staff of the Year' award in 1985, and again in 2000 when his Packers crew was rated second among all NFL teams in a survey conducted by the NFL Players Association.

Burruss also ranks at the top of one of his favorite activities away from the football field.

Any visitor to his office in the training room at Lambeau Field can catch a glimpse of his renowned cartridge collection, as his shelves are lined with bullet cartridges and small ammunition.

In his home office -- where the full collection is on display -- Burruss has filled his 15' x 20' basement room with an array of over 5,000 "significant" pieces. Burruss owns of one of the best collections in the state of Wisconsin, a collection he says rivals many top crime labs because it is so specialized.

Some may find it odd that a man who has devoted his life to healing injuries and keeping players in top physical condition is so fascinated by things that can be so destructive, but Burruss isn't interested in the kind of damage that his cartridges could do.

"I don't own a gun. I can not even remember the last time I shot at a living thing," Burruss said. "I had to be less than 20 years old. What I am fascinated by is the development and history of ammunition."

Burruss is a longtime member of the International Ammunition Association, a group of over 1,000 cartridge collectors from all over the world. After years of attending the group's annual meeting, he presented a display for the first time in 2004 and walked away with "Best of Show" honors at the St. Louis International Cartridge Show.

When asked how he became so involved in cartridge collecting, Burruss said he had a childhood desire to figure out how things work, picking up empty .22 or shotgun shells here and there, but he didn't start collecting until after college.

"A college roommate of mine found out that I was interested in ammunition and his dad gave me a bag full of old cartridges," Burruss said. "They were really weird and really old and that got me thinking that there's a lot of odd stuff out there. That's what kick-started the whole thing."

It should come to no surprise to anyone that Burruss has reached such heights in his hobby based on the great success he has enjoyed in his nearly 30 years in the NFL. He says his time away from the office helps him keep the Packers operating at top condition.

"You need to have something as an outlet for the great demands of this business," Burruss said, pointing to his favorite quote: 'Leisure time is free time that has been qualitatively transformed by engaging in activities that are intrinsically satisfying.'

"You can find that in family, which I do, or in spiritual life, which I do, but I think a hobby is a healthy thing to have. When people find out about how happy I am with my collection, they often say 'I wish I had a hobby.' It's definitely not a bad thing."

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