Dream Job: Lead Radiology Technologist for the Dallas Cowboys

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? 

Norm Burgess

Norm Burgess, lead technologist, on field with the Dallas Cowboys, 2011

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? 

43 thoughts on “Dream Job: Lead Radiology Technologist for the Dallas Cowboys

      • Hello Norm. My name is Wil and I have been the Lead tech for The St. Louis Rams for the past 12 years. I’m sure you have interesting stories as I do myself. It’s a very interesting job to say the least. I have seen so many players and coaches come and go. It actually gets a little sad to see some of the players and coaches go and then you see them in a different uniform. Well, just wanted to say hello. I’ve never thought about looking up to see what are techs work for professional sports teams.

    • That is one of the views we struggle with…. Most c spines the player can walk and we do with with the upright bucky stand…. Normally if they are strapped to a stretcher for c spine they go directly to a local Medical Center for CT scan.

      • Sometimes, you can get a cleaner, less motiony, better picture of the swimmers view on the table bucky. I work for the army and have some very thick, muscled patients too. As I am a lifelong Cowboys fan and an X-ray Tech, I am super duper jealous. What a dream job!!

  1. So you must be one of the guys who took x-rays of me in ’86 and again in ’91. Thanks for your quick and professional work!

    • Herb, I probably did if you had a game in Dallas and we xrayed you ….hahahaha
      thanks for the post…. email me and let me know what you are doing these days..

  2. Priscilla wants a job with you. She is an RT (R) and awesome!!!! How would she be able to get a job doing what you are doing? Its her dream job too.

  3. My name is Cody and I am a fellow Xray tech. Facinating article and I must say that I’m quite jealous Norm. I have a passion for Cowboys football that is undeniable. I’ll work for free as your apprentice Norm just put in the good word to the big man a.k.a. JJ!

  4. I live in central PA so working for the Cowboys is out of the question for me, although I am a PA cowboys fan…can you give me any tips on how to get my foot in the door to eventually end up with a pro sports team.

  5. Hello my name is Brandon I’m currently a rad tech and CT tech I was wondering how do you get into a rad tech job with an nfl team and is it true they have cat scanners in some stadiums

  6. AWESOME for Norm. He seems very happy. Great job to have. My dream job will be, to be a Great Entrepreneur. To help others in the field of Radiology. Currently, I am a Radiologic Tech and I really like what i am doing. But, currently I have an App on the App store called Radman lite Please visit it, it is FREE and leave a comment.

  7. Hello! I’m a rad tech student and I’ll be starting my clinicals this fall. My dream job would be to work for a sports team when I get done.!! How did you get this job? and do you have any tips for me?

  8. Mr. Burgess,
    I was at a continuing education course this morning and they flashed your name up on the screen. I asked is this possibly the same Norman Burgess that was the director of the radiology school I attended in Victoria? Sure enough! I am currently in San Antonio and with South Texas Radiology Imaging Centers and in the marketing department for the past 20 years. We currently have over 60 radiologist and 22 plus imaging centers. Glad to hear you are well and still doing what you love!

  9. Norm, my name is Josh Thompson RT(R) I have just applied for the opening for the PRN job for the Cowboys!!! This would be my dream job to be able to combine my passion if x-ray and football together as one. I hope i will be able to work along side of you in the near future!!! I found out about the job from a friend of mine that told me that he heard from Justin Bradley about the job. I don’t know if you know him or not?

  10. I’ve wondered for years how someone gets your job? My husband is in the Air Force and has 5 yrs left. This would be the ULTIMATE JOB for him ever, I mean he would fall over if he could work for the cowboys in any capacity! Would you be willing to give advice as to how to get a job doing this? He is Texan through and through born and raised. I always felt he missed his calling -should have been a coach. He answered a different calling serving our great country and no matter where he goes he will live and die the greatest cowboy fan I’ve ever known. We are currently in San Antonio where we’ve been stationed so he can teach phase one in Rad technology. He also has a BA in Business administration an AA in radiology. Any advice would be most sincerely appreciated.
    Respectfully,
    Leisl Brown

  11. Hello Norm,

    It is a dream job. And one, that is also my dream job that I hope to get one day. I am currently an X-ray tech working many contract jobs and going to school full time to complete my RT license. I love my job and the radiology field. I strive to learn new things and perfect my techqniques in radiology. I am at the point where it is time for me to start taking that next step to fulfill my dream. I would love to pick your brain and maybe get a little direction to get on the right path. My email is Brandon_Gig22@yahoo.com and would love to get in contact with you. If there is any information you can help me with I would very much appreciate it. Thanks Norm!

    Brandon

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