ALLEN PARK -- Detroit Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson celebrated his 31st birthday on Sunday during his team’s 17th training camp practice of 2012.
Many people celebrate with family, cake and a cold beverage. Burleson opted for teammates, a football field and a cold tub.
A football player born in the month of August essentially signs away his rights to a “normal” birthday with each contract. Spending 10-years in the NFL, Burleson is well aware of this and has adapted.
“That is kind of crazy,” said Burleson. “It’s been a blessing, even though my birthday always falls around camp. It’s always exciting to be at practice, on certain occasions I’ve played in a game, I’ve scored a touchdown on my birthday. So, I’ve had some memories throughout my 10 years in the league on my birthday.”
Although Burleson’s birthday celebration doesn’t quite stack up to that of some other athletes – I’m looking at you, LeBron James – it is a step towards the fruition of his potential birthday wish.
If Burleson does get to enjoy a birthday cake, when he’s staring at the 31 burning candles and preparing to make a wish, his mind might race in reflection.
If football is on his mind – and it very well may be - Burleson may reminisce of his 391 career receptions, nearly 5000 receiving yards and 36 career touchdowns. He has accomplished much during his decade in the league – both on and off the field – leaving little else to be desired.
Well, except for the obvious.
“I want to win a championship,” said Burleson. “That’s really what’s left to accomplish, I’ve played for three teams, made some good money in this league, made some great friends but before I’m done playing I want to be part of a parade and have a piece of jewelry I can pass down to my kid’s kids.”
And if Burleson’s championship dreams never materialize?
“It would be like a single man thinking about that girl he let get away,” he said. “I’m going to always appreciate the touchdowns, the highlights, all the fun things that have happened since I’ve played but two or three years from now, if I walk away from this game and I don’t have a ring on my finger, it’s going to hurt because you sacrifice so much and in return everybody is chasing that one goal – and that’s to hold up that Lombardi trophy. Hopefully before I’m done I can be part of something special here in Michigan.”
If you’ve ever closed your eyes before blowing out those birthday candles while wishing for that long overdue Lions’ Super Bowl, it’s a dream shared with one of the team’s most likeable and fun-to-be-around players.
Burleson – who takes no days off – is even working on his birthday to help make the wish come true.