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AP File Photograph
Detroit Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson (13) and Detroit Lions quarterback Shaun Hill (14) celebrate Burleson’s touchdown catch in the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings in Detroit, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011.
ALLEN PARK — Nate Burleson is quite the entertaining Lions’ wide receiver.
He’s not shy about it either.
The veteran has quickly ingrained himself into the Lions locker room and the fans’ hearts.
Part of it is because of his well choreographed touchdown celebrations.
“I’m a little kid out here, I’m 30 years old, but I enjoy playing this sport, I was telling the guys in the receiving (meeting) room, I said you know if you don’t have a celebration planned, you’re not planning to celebrate. Why go out there every game if you don’t plan to get in the end zone? That’s why we play receiver,” Burleson said. “I’m not going to get in the end zone every game but in my mind I feel I have a chance to and I’m going to have fun when I get there. It’s hard to score in the NFL so I appreciate every time I get in the end zone.”
Couldn’t say this about every Lion on the roster, but it’s easy to imagine Burleson in front of his mirror at home working on his celebrations.
Sometimes he needs advice from his teammates.
“I go to my celebration consultant which is Calvin (Johnson). He talks to me, he doesn’t talk to you guys (the media), he talks to me. He lets me know if it’s too much or if it’s not enough,” Burleson said. “I kind of celebrate for him, he lives vicariously through me.”
Actually Burleson is gradually pulling the usually quiet Johnson out of his shell.
“Calvin last year stepped out of his box quite a bit, a lot of people don’t realize the Dallas game he ran and jumped on the star (after scoring). That was a stomp, it wasn’t like he was running and put his arms up … That was his idea,” Burleson said.
Maybe we’ll see that side of Calvin Johnson again this season.
“I’m not going to let anything out of the bag, but Calvin’s got something planned this year, and if the stars align the way they need to, this celebration will be the best celebration you’ve ever seen,” Burleson said.
“Certain things have to happen in the course of the play that will make this the best celebration you’ve ever seen, I guarantee it.”
Burleson said it would top the highly regarded (by fans not the league) celebrations of Chad Ochocinco who is now with the New England Patriots.
Well, safety Louis Delmas will believe it when he sees Calvin Johnson do it.
“Let me tell you something if Calvin could top one of (Ochocinco’s) celebrations we’re going to make the Super Bowl this year. That’s one of the most quiet dudes I’ve ever met in my life,” said Delmas who is anything but quiet.
Neither is Burleson so it’s hard to imagine he didn’t talk for his first four or five years in the league.
He said as a young player he was told to keep eyes open and mouth shut, to
listen and learn before you opening his mouth.
Now it’s no holds barred.
Of course, if Burleson wasn’t productive he could talk but no one would listen.
“He’s one of our Energizer bunnies, he gets us going. That’s not something he can force, that’s something in him,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “That was one of the biggest values he had was bringing in a guy with a lot of energy and great positive energy and leadership. I think it’s really helped us.”
He talks the talk, but much more.
“Beyond the entertainment value, he’s a really good player. One thing you trust him, he’s the kind of player on any play — he played flanker last week, Calvin’s position — a lot of times he’s our split end, many times he’s in the slot. He’s one of those guys who’s a football player who knows how to utilize what he’s good at — his strength and his ability to adjust to balls, and get enough separation for the quarterback to make plays. He’s a playmaker.”
And he’s appreciated by his teammates.
“He’s a big-time energy guy, he gets guys excited before the game, during the game keeps guys up,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “He’s a tough player, he’ll go across the middle, take a hit, keep running. Guys feed off that tough play and energy.”
Stafford enjoys Burleson’s touchdown celebrations.
“I love them I think it’s fun, it’s part of the game, you’ve got to have fun while you’re out there, he’s always pushing the limits,” Stafford said.
But don’t expect to see Stafford choreographing his touchdown celebrations. Burleson knows better than to bring it up.
“You know them quarterbacks they do the Michael Jordan fist pump or the Brett Favre (rip off the) chin strap and they walk to the sideline,” Burleson said.
In last week’s preseason game at Cleveland, once he got to the end zone, Burleson did a tribute of sorts to LeBron James who used to throw his powder into the Cavs’ crowd after drying his hands.
“I was going to do the shot by (Michael) Jordan, but I scored and the fans in Cleveland had some harsh words for me,” Burleson said. “After that I was looking for my powder, I had to throw it up.”
And he did.
What’s next? If Burleson scores on Saturday against the Patriots, you know he’ll have something up his sleeve.
(Paula Pasche covers the Lions. Follow her on Twitter @PaulaPasche. Read her Lions Lowdown blog at TheOaklandPress.com. Get Lions news delivered directly to your phone by texting the keyword “Lions” to 22700.)
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