The last couple of years have brought generational change to the Packers organization.
It’s continuing now, with longtime head athletic trainer Pepper Burruss retiring — ending an NFL career that began three years before coach Matt LaFleur was born.
Burruss has been with the Packers the last 26 years, after spending the first 16 years with the Jets. The last four years, he’s served as director of sports medicine administration, and he said he wouldn’t trade a day.
“No, not in a million years,” he said, via the team’s official website. “It’s just been a crazy run, and in no way, shape or form is it going to be easy to walk away from. No way.
“Is it time? Yes. Do you want to go? Yeah, no. I don’t know. But it’s been a helluva run, c’mon.”
The 65-year-old Burruss was named the the NFL Physicians Society’s Outstanding NFL Athletic Trainer in 2012, and his staffs were twice named athletic training staff of the year. He has also represented Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society on the NFL’s head, neck and spine medical committee.
He also helped modernize the Packers operations when he was brought in under former General Manager Ron Wolf.
“I knew when I walked into the training room in 1992 that I could help,” he said. “If I walked into a fully oiled, magnificently running machine that was cutting edge, I would have said I don’t know what I can do here. But the Packers had come off a pretty meager 25 years, budgetary considerations were always what they were. Whatever the words, whether they were stuck in the mud or not, I was able to come in and take a ’70s operation immediately into the ’90s.
“I don’t know how you describe the legacy, but the legacy was not to take it to the next level, just get it up to speed, and now as I’m leaving I’m watching these young guys walking into a new G.M. and a new coach like I did and already putting their fingerprint on what’s going on in this room.”
And few have left as many fingerprints on the Packers, as Burruss has worked 883 NFL games, including 567 with Green Bay.