The Detroit Lions lost a lot more than a wide receiver when Nate Burleson went down with a broken leg. He is not only a vocal presence within the receivers group, he is also one of the team’s best leaders in the locker room and the sideline.
Burleson was able to return to the Lions’ sideline a few weeks after suffering his injury despite being ruled out for the season and placed on the injured reserve list. His leadership has been well received by his teammates and they have voted him the winner of the Mike Utley Spirit Award for the 2012 season.
DetroitLions.com describes the award as follows:
The Mike Utley Award is presented to the player who exhibited tremendous spirit, desire, dedication and work ethic. This award is given in honor of former Lions guard Mike Utley, who suffered a career-ending neck injury which left him paralyzed on Nov. 17, 1991; Minutes after sustaining the injury, Utley flashed his teammates a “thumbs up” sign as he was wheeled from the field, a gesture that galvanized a team that went on to win its next seven contests and advanced to the NFC Championship game.
Burleson’s future with the team is somewhat uncertain but he has already stated his desire to remain with the team, even going as far as indicating a willingness to lessen the team’s financial commitment to allow that to happen.