- Rob Demovsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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In a story that appeared in the latest edition of ESPN The Magazine, the future Hall of Famer said part of the reason he decided to retire rather than return to Atlanta was because none of his teammates came to his defense after Burnett yelled at him, "F--- you! You ain't s---!"
Burnett, though, denied Gonzalez's allegations.
"I don't know where this is coming from or who said it, but I work real hard on and off the field to build a good reputation around the league, and I've got too much respect for the game to even say something like that," Burnett said in a telephone interview Thursday. "I've got too much respect for myself. I've got a 4-year-old son who looks up to me. I respect someone like Tony Gonzalez, who's a first-ballot Hall of Famer, to ever say or do anything like that."
Burnett said he hardly covered Gonzalez in the game, won 22-21 by the Packers. Gonzalez had three catches for 25 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
"That's the thing: I was never on him throughout the whole game," Burnett said. "I'm not even a trash-talker. I'm a quiet guy. I just go out and play.
"I'm just disappointed to hear something like that, and I don't know where it came from. I'm just a guy trying to make my way in the league and just trying to be the best player that I can be."
Packers cornerback Jarrett Bush offered some clarity to the situation Friday when he said via Twitter that he was the one who was regularly engaged with Gonzalez in the game.
"I told him he was a flopper, tryin to get a call," Bush wrote. "And some other words that were exchange. That is undisclosed!"
Perhaps Gonzalez confused Burnett and Bush because of their uniform numbers. Burnett wears No. 42, while Bush is No. 24.
22hMel Kiper Jr.
2dEric D. Williams