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Kevin Burnett not dwelling on screwed-up neck

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Aug 3, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    Tuesday, August 3, 2010 at 10:13 p.m.

    Kevin Burnett avoided the subject for several minutes. He beat around the bush, declined to go down certain paths.
    It’s football, and you don’t talk about such things. He’s never referred in this context to the 10 previous surgeries he’s had in order to keep him upright and playing this game he loves. He’s never used as an excuse the other 11 screws still stuck in various places inside his body.
    But Burnett eventually grew tired of playing footsie with the issue of why his 2009 season was not what it could have been.
    “You want to see something?” he said as he grabbed his phone and scrolled through the pictures stored there. “I think this will answer a lot of your questions.”
    And suddenly, there it was.
    An X-ray image of what clearly is his neck and the large screws stuck in it.
    It’s a ghastly photo. It causes you to flinch and to shake your head and to whisper because it’s so real that your subconscious is stuck for a moment imagining that big, scary staple is in your most vulnerable set of bones.
    “Yeah, yeah,” Burnett said. “There is a lot more to it than people know.”
    There almost always is.
    But the simple fact is that Burnett’s neck got in his head last season.
    The inside linebacker arrived here in March 2009 as the Chargers’ only free agent acquisition of that offseason. As training camp progressed and through the preseason’s first three games, it appeared the Chargers got a steal. A four-year veteran and occasional starter for the Dallas Cowboys, Burnett had cost just $5.5 million for two years.
    He was aggressive and instinctive against the run, excellent in coverage. It was exactly the anti-Matt Wilhelm the Chargers had ordered.
    Then, in a scary moment in the first quarter of the Chargers’ final exhibition, Burnett got pinballed around a pile and had his head plowed into 49ers tight end Vernon Davis. He laid facedown for several minutes before leaving the field and not returning.
    Burnett was never the same – not as aggressive, not as quick, not the player the Chargers had brought in to start at inside linebacker next to Stephen Cooper.
    He started eight games, missing weeks seven through nine with an ankle injury and two games in December to rest his neck.
    He had offseason surgery on his ankle, too, but the ankle is not what altered the course of his season.
    “Every time I hit someone after that, my hands blew up,” Burnett said, describing the pain. “Let’s be real, I don’t have screws in my neck for no reason. That player (people saw in the preseason last year), that’s not a figment of your imagination. I’m a football player.”
    Even as the Chargers drafted Donald Butler in the third round of April’s draft, envisioning him as an eventual, if not immediate, replacement for Burnett, Burnett believes he will rebound.
    He acknowledges he thought about his neck — the possible further injury, even death — virtually every play last season. He will be the player he once was and knows he still is.
    “You take the guesswork out of it, and you know, ‘I’m not going to die now,’ ” he said. “I’m going to go out there and play football.”
    Another reason Burnett has a renewed focus on the now is the same reason many players view this season at least a little differently. It has to do with the uncertainty regarding the NFL’s labor situation, a possible lockout in 2011 and that next season could be wiped out.
    Burnett passionately described the ramifications of the looming battle between the players union and team owners.
    “I’m not the only one that’s going to be a year older,” he said. “I’m not the only one who is in the prime of their career. There is a lot at stake. Either you get your big deal now, you win your championship now, or you could possibly not have a chance to do it. It ups the ante a whole lot.
    “You’ve got to live for today,” Burnett said.
    “It is what it is. It’s going to be what it’s going to be. You prepare all you can, do what you can for the moment and then you go out and play as hard as you can and not look back. Forget the neck, forget the ankle, forget everything that’s going on and play hard and let the chips fall where they may.”

  2. CoronaDoug

    CoronaDoug Official Hater

    Feb 14, 2007
    Donald Butler you are on deck.
    I don't know how long Burnett can stay healthy?? :icon_shrug:
  3. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    Butler is in the bench. Better hope that Burnett is over his uncertainty regarding his health.

    Can we get Dobbins back? :unsure:
  4. The LBC

    The LBC I'm a Real Prick

    Jun 28, 2010
    Considering that the Phins lost AJ Edds the day before yesterday to a shredded ACL, I'd say the answer is probably no.
  5. ThunderHorse17

    ThunderHorse17 Lone Wolf

    Apr 10, 2010
    Thats a screwed-up thread title.

    Pretty sure that reason wasnt pandored for us but the media since we already knew what was up in 09...

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