FOCUS | NATE BURLESON
me. I have had broken ankles, left ACL, PCL, tibia plateau fracture on my left leg, broken arm, surgery on my elbow, broken ribs, two sepa- rated shoulders, broken nose, concussions. So I just thought if you’re taking all of these pieces of you and sacrificing them to the game, the game is going to reward those who give. That’s what we were told as kids. “The game will give what you give to it.” It’s one of those clichés coaches lean on. The game has my ligaments, the game put me through surgeries. The game was supposed to give me a trophy, and the game never gave me that, so it burned me for a while. I was able to talk in therapy and admit that I had some regrets and some gripes with the game. It allowed me to realize howmuch I wanted to win still, and it’s OK to want to win still. Maybe it was meant for me to not win a Super Bowl, because it created this hunger inside to win in a dierent space. All I do know is the lack of representation of NFL trophies in my showroom has created a monster in every other
What do you feel has helped prepare you for this next step? NB: My whole life. Being the middle son of a household full of boys, I always felt like I could entertain the family at any given moment. And then throughout my career, as much as I love football and as much as it provided a great life for me, I’ve always had dreams of doing something bigger than the sport. And this is it. I’m not completely removed from football, which is why I’m still working on The NFL Today and with NFL Network. But to do something that touches everything—from daily news, pop culture, movies, music, politics, and everything in between—it’s right up my alley. This is truly the best way to describe the Nate Burleson experi- ence. I’ll be able to wake up with the viewers every single morning and give them a little bit of me, along with my honesty, my love, and my passion. It’s going to spill over right onto their breakfast tables. It’s an exciting journey and it’s been a long time in the making.
I left football in 2014 and I’ve been juggling multiple jobs since—sometimes as many as five—and they’ve all been specifically done to prepare me for a show like this. I’ve been hon- ing my skills and hopefully I can display that every single morning to this new audience. You also worked as a correspondent on Extra . Did they come to you or did you have to prove you knew entertainment and pop culture? NB: No, I did. I remember meeting with a couple of people from Extra here in New York, and they were kind of like, “We’re not sure if he’s ready.” I don’t think they understood that football was something that I did—it isn’t who I am. I was using the guide that it wasn’t an interview with me; it was more me catching up with somebody I’m a fan of. I would fan out a little bit. … J.Lo, meeting with her, just chilling, hold-
space in life. “Oh, OK, the Lombardi is a manmade trophy. They’re still making other trophies: Oscars, Grammys, and Emmys. Oh, I can still go get some trophies.” You mentioned Oscar being one of those trophies. Is acting in your future? NB: Over the last few years, I would receive scripts and I’d just casually read them, but toss them away and tell the producers sending them that I didn’t want to do it at this point. I wanted to conquer the space that I’m in, my specific jungle, one space at a time. I’ve done a clothing line. I’ve rapped. I’ve been a restaurateur. I wanted to stay in each lane, conquer it. I wanted to focus on TV before auditioning for roles. Now that I feel like I’ve established myself, it’ll be time to revisit that one day down the road. I think it’s the next step, not because I’m the next Denzel, I just think it’s the most challenging thing I could do at this point
“ I just knew at some point I wanted somebody to talk about
me the way they talked about my dad.”
ing her purses, and I turned the switch on. I’m like, “J.Lo, what’s up? Oh, look at you, looking better than ever.” I was like, “Let me get this straight. Dancer, family woman, philanthropist, musician, artist, actress—oh, and the movie Hustlers ? Am I looking at an Oscar win- ner?” And at that point, she just lights up. Then she quickly realized I’m a fan. I date back to the In Living Color days. Halfway through the interview, she stopped and she said, “There’s no way you played football.” I said, “All right, I’ll take that as a backhanded compliment, but…” I don’t know if you put your memorabilia in the attic for your kids to find someday, but if you have a trophy case, which trophy would be on the top shelf? NB: The Emmys. For a long time, not winning a Super Bowl bothered
in my life. I used to act when I was a kid. I would do commercials, and I did an after-school special. My mom always says, if I call her on a random day, she’s like, “You got a movie role yet?” So she thinks I’m going to be in a movie soon. Suppose you do win some more hardware—whether that’s an Oscar or another Emmy or what have you—would you do what Tom Brady did with the Lombardi trophy after the Super Bowl and throw it from one boat to another? NB: How’s that song go? The old dude singing at the cookout, he’s like, “Hell no to the no, no, no.” Yeah, so basically, hell no. I don’t want to be the one responsible for breaking or losing my Emmy, and on top of that, I have a terrible arm. Whatever trophies I win are gonna stay grounded.
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