Burleson honored with Courage Award

DETROIT -- It is perhaps an odd thing to feel happy for being honored about being injured, yet that's exactly how Detroit Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson feels.

Everyone is injured at some point playing professional football and most of those guys get nothing for it but pain, heartache and the hope to one day return to playing.

So for Burleson to win the Ed Block Courage Award for the second time Tuesday after returning from a broken leg last season, it actually does mean a lot.

"A lot of people see athletes get injured and they just expect us back," Burleson said Tuesday prior to the dinner at Ford Field. "The one thing I can appreciate about the courage award is the journey that goes from the time you're injured to the time you actually make it back on the field. Not just the physical rehabilitation but the emotional. That's the toughest part.

"There's times when we can sit here and smile in front of the cameras and talk to you all day long, but we don't often tell you about the times we're questioning every decision we ever made, when we're thinking about the last route we ran. Just trying to get a grasp on reality, emotionally. I think, for this award, I'm kind of able to relive all that and appreciate everybody who voted for me and making it back."

Burleson has been honored for injuries to his legs both times. His first Courage Award came in Seattle, when he returned from a torn ACL. The reason he received the award Tuesday was coming back from a broken leg against Chicago last season.

Even with his broken forearm suffered in a one-car crash last week, he is not planning on becoming a three-time winner. Instead, he's trying to return as fast as possible.

He already has the player he'll likely vote for next season already set up in his head.

"I'm not strategically trying to set myself up to win it. I'm trying to get back ASAP," Burleson said. "This could just be a small glitch in the season. We'll do weeks instead of months or even a season. But yeah, I'm definitely not trying to win it.

"I think Jason (Jones), and what he's went through already, I've seen him in the locker room today with a smile on his face and I could tell that there's some tears behind that. I can tell he wants to be on the field and he probably has my vote already."

Jones ruptured the patellar tendon in his left knee against Washington last month, ending his season.