Norm Burgess is entering his 28th season of imaging professional football players. Today he’s Lead Radiology Technologist for the Dallas Cowboy’s home games–a dream opportunity for many rad tech sport fans. Burgess gives us a quick look into game time imaging of professional football players.
Q: You’ve been a Radiographer for the Dallas Cowboys for some time- what is the best part about this job?
A: I’ve been a radiographer for the Dallas Cowboys since 1984, working on game days. I’ve seen so many different coaching styles and team personalities. I’ve been with them through 8 coaches, starting with Tom Landry. Each coach brings different approaches and it is so much fun to be right up with all the action! I’m located on the 30 yard line, Cowboys sideline, in neutral NFL clothing, waiting for a page. Each game is fabulous, but participating in the 2010 Super Bowl game with the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers was awesome. We see a lot of celebrities on the sideline from game to game, and they usually hang out standing by me on the 30 yard line.
Q: Tell us about imaging professional football players and the imaging facilities
A: One of the immediate obvious differences is the size of the patient. Our table is a heavy-duty table designed to hold 1,000 pounds. We have to adjust our techniques for the body mass of patients that are much larger and have much more muscle than the average person.
All our patients are STAT. Myself and another technologist work as a team. One of us with set up the image parameters, and the other will position the patient. We have a third person that enters demographic data. The images are used immediately by the team physicians to determine if the player can return to the game and if the player needs additional medical attention.
Q: Working with professional football players has to be interesting, during game days, what is most imaged at the stadium?
A: We are mainly asked to image extremities, ribs, shoulders, knees, elbows and sometimes cervical spines. The clinicians are looking for fractures. During some games I’ll be on the sidelines for a full quarter then off to start imaging players, sometime until the entire game is completed. We usually image 8+ players for each team during a game. The stadium’s digital x-ray room the same size as an x-ray room in any medical center. Only this one is only used during games. The stadium is used for some college games, including the Cotton Bowl, so I’ll participate in those events too. During the football season we’ll be at all the home Dallas Cowboy games and 4 or so college games.
Q: How imaging changed in the past 27 years?
A: I became a Registered Technologist with the ARRT in 1967 through a hospital based program in Austin Texas. When I started with the Cowboys, our imaging was film based. Now we are all digital. We image for both teams. At the end of each game we download images to CD/DVD’s of the visiting team to take back with them. During the game we can transmit the images via our PACS to the visitor locker room for them to review on their workstation. In my wide variety of radiographer roles throughout my career, the commonality is STAT. The quicker the image is available, the sooner the player can diagnosed.
What is your dream radiology job?