By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – It seems like the most unlikely scenario ever that a professional athlete would land an endorsement deal by accidentally totaling his car and breaking his arm while reaching for pizza boxes.
Unless, of course, that athlete is Detroit Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson. In that case, it seems strangely plausible.
Burleson broke an arm in a one-car, early-morning accident back in September, and while he is still working to get back on the field, he is garnering attention. DiGiorno Pizza, a frozen pizza company, sent Burleson coupons for a year’s supply of free pizza with a letter of sympathy. Recently Burleson had a meeting with DiGiorno to discuss a possible endorsement deal.
“Even my agent was like, ‘Only you, Nate. Only you could turn a car crash into a DiGiorno deal,'” Burleson said. “After I got out of the dumps and pulled myself up out of an emotional rut, I realized how funny it was though. Actually when I was on the pain pills I realized how funny it was. You feel a little loopy, you know what I’m saying? So I’m at home giggling to myself.”
In the meeting with DiGiornio, Burleson signed some autographs and gave away some tickets. He said he does not know if the deal will happen, though he hopes it does. He pitched them an idea for a commercial and happily reenacted it for reporters Wednesday.
“I’m out hanging out, late night, with the fellas, then everybody says, ‘Let’s go get pizza!’ but it’s like one in the morning, and I reach for the keys and see the scar and then the music gets real dramatic,” Burleson said, grinning as reporters cracked up around him. “And then I look at my friend and one tear drops down his face, and I’m like, ‘Yeah, you’re right. DiGiorno.’ And I go to the fridge.”
Not only has Burleson gracefully and humbly handled all the pizza jokes – from teammates and media alike – he even makes the jokes himself now. After one writer teasingly asked how many times Burleson had to wreck his car to get an endorsement deal, the wide receiver played right along.
“See nobody knows I crashed the car like five times – I just always got it fixed,” Burleson said, smiling and rolling his eyes. “I tried Pizza Hut. They didn’t call back. I had all kind of food in my car. Whoppers. Didn’t work. DiGiorno’s the only one that bit on it.”
“I’m joking,” he added, just to be safe. “I’m joking!”
Joking aside, Burleson might have a pizza endorsement deal because of a car wreck. If anyone would, it had to be him.