While most teams shy away from off the field problems and criticism of dirty play, Nate Burleson and the Detroit Lions may actually embrace the hate. So says the wide receiver, who believes it is a good thing for the Lions to be the bad guys.
“We had a lot of discipline issues during the offseason, and we wanted to tighten up because the perception of this organization started to change — what we’d worked for was getting torn down, and we wanted to be more of a mature team,” Burleson said. “But finding that maturity off the field can’t compromise who we are on the field, and who we are on the field are the bad guys.
“We’re the ones that nobody wants to see succeed, and we like it that way. We play better that way. I think everybody took it in their own hands to be better men off the field, and that followed us a little bit on the field, but I think we’re back where we need to be.”
Seven arrests. Being accused of dirty play. Cocky and controversial coaches. Countless stupid penalties. Those are all good things, at least according to Burleson.
Burleson said that it was good for the Lions to get their swagger back after a comeback victory against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. After trailing by 10 points in the fourth quarter, Detroit rallied to topple the Eagles, and Burleson’s touchdown was a big factor why, for multiple reasons.
Burleson mimicked shooting an eagle after scoring the touchdown to bring Detroit within three points of Philadelphia. He found out later that it may not have been the most appropriate celebration.
“Yeah, I heard you can’t shoot eagles,” Burleson said in the locker room after the game. ”I don’t know, I think I missed. The eagle might still be alive and flying around.”
Either way, Burleson said he was more than happy to do whatever it took for the Lions ”to kind of get our swagger back.”
“I talked to the guys last week, and I said we’ve got to get back to being angry, mad at everybody, not really caring what people think about us, playing with that chip on our shoulders,” Burleson told reporters.
Now, Burleson will get to test his theory and see just how much swagger they have back when they face the vaunted Chicago Bears defense on Monday Night Football in Week 7 of the 2012 NFL season.