Nate Burleson Prepared For a Career in Media Even As An NFL Player

Before former wide receiver Nate Burleson retired from the NFL, he was preparing for a career in media during his playing days and it has helped lead him to high-profile positions on NFL Network, The NFL Today on CBS, and now on CBS Mornings.

Hon The Big Suey on The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, Burleson talked about his journey to get to where he is today in the broadcast industry and while he wouldn’t be on-camera sometimes at the NFL Network during his playing career, he was taking in everything that he could.

“Even when I was playing, I was working in the media space,” Burleson explained. “Whether it was with the local teams (local radio), the team network. Every offseason, I would fly to California, go over to Culver City, and I would do the NFL Network. If you are playing, they aren’t paying. It wasn’t like I was making money. Sometimes, I wasn’t even on TV. I was just sitting back, rubbing shoulders, looking at what was going on behind the scenes.

“From the moment I entered the league (2003), that was the moment I did something in the media space every single year, whether it was with my team, NFL Network, or local news. Once I figured out how long my career was going to last and it was nearing the end, I did the broadcast boot camp that the NFL offered. I was a little bit of a “standout” and I don’t say that to pat myself on the back. We had all these applicants (over 1,000 submitted), 30+ guys were there. They were like, ‘Hey, you are a standout; you can be really good at this. ‘”

While the people at the broadcast boot camp saw Burleson as a standout, he had moments where he felt like a rookie as well. He had to learn the art of being on television and to try not to be like some of the former players at NFL Network that he grew up watching.

“The reason I bring that up is because when they were calling me a standout, I realized I didn’t know squat about being on TV, like the actual craft,” Burleson said. “Everything from the smallest of details like placement of your hands, body language, eye contact, being concise with your words, in and out of conversations, being a host vs. analyst. As they were complimenting me, I felt like a rookie in this entirely new space. It just made me want to work harder.

“When you go to the NFL Network after an 11-year career, I don’t look in the mirror and see a guy that shouldn’t get praised, but I am very self-aware of who I am when I am standing in the room with absolute legends. You walk into NFL Network and it’s Deion Sanders, Michael Irvin, Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Willie McGinest. All of these dudes that I have looked up to at one point. I thought let me sprinkle in a little bit of them in what I do on TV… Then, I figured out who I am. “

Once Burleson found out who he was as an analyst, he realized he could be that person who could connect the players from the past and the players today and that’s when everything started opening for him:

“I’m this young kid who was raised in humble beginnings from Seattle, a blend between a jock and a nerd. I love cartoons, I love writing poetry, I love hip-hop, I love watching movies, I’m a man of the people. I love black culture. I walk it, I talk it, I live it, I breathe it, ”said Burleson.

“That’s who I am. Be that guy on TV because that guy resonates and that guy has a grasp of what’s going on in the league. He can touch the guys from yesteryear and he can reach and touch the guys that are playing today. Once I figured out my voice, it just seemed like doors started opening. “

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