Former NFL wide receiver Nate Burleson is no stranger to crazy and odd occurrences. The eccentric former wideout for the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions was part of the Vikings infamous Love Boat scandal along with players like Daunte Culpepper and Fred Smoot.
Burleson also once racked up $15,000 worth of fines for punting a ball into the stands and lifting up his jersey to an undershirt reading “What Up Doe” in a touchdown celebration.
Along with Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu being fined for using a cell phone on the sideline, former San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore for wearing low socks and Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton for wearing Under Armour facemask clips, it was definitely one of the 10 ridiculous fines in NFL history.
Even those instances rank nowhere near the time Burleson crashed his car and broke his arm trying to save a pizza in 2013. Considering the outcome, that pie better have had cheese-stuffed crust.
Nate Burleson Car Accident
The story goes as follows: Burleson was on his way from Happy’s Pizza & Pub in Farmington Hills, Michigan. He was coming from a get-together with friends to watch the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders for Monday Night Gootball on Sept. 23.
Around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, Burleson — with two whole pizzas riding shotgun in the passenger seat next to him — reached down to save a pizza box from sliding off. When he looked back up, he hit the brakes and swerved his 2009 GMC Yukon into the median on I-696.
The airbag deployed and Burleson escaped with two small breaks in his forearm. Judging from the pictures he posted to Instagram, it could’ve been a lot worse.
“I’m releasing these pix for 2 reasons: 1) I walked away from a totalled vehicle #Blessed 2) I have to hear all the pizza jokes…lol I’ll start-Yes I am the 5th Ninja Turtle. #LovePizza #LetTheJokesBegin”
Apparently, Burleson not only had a handful of deep dish pepperoni pizza he was taking bites out of at the time. He was in the process of plugging his phone into the charger cable. That gives us on opportunity to recognize how dangerous eating and driving can be — you’re almost four times as likely to crash if you’re chowing down while operating your vehicle.
Michigan State Police Lt. Michael Shaw, who told ESPN that alcohol was not a factor in the accident and Burleson didn’t appear impaired, described what he could tell happened:
“It was actually a whole pizza,” Shaw said. “He had purchased two whole pizzas, and one was sitting on top of the other one, and I guess when he was driving one of them was slipping off, and he was reaching over to push it back onto the seat and overcorrected and hit the median wall.”
Nate Burleson Pizza
The cherry (or pineapple) on top of this car accident? DiGiorno’s gave Burleson a year’s worth of free pizza following the accident. Instead of worrying about carryout, he could instead go straight to his freezer for dinner.
“Hello Nate, We hope you are feeling better after your recent car accident and are on the road to recovery,” the frozen pizza company wrote. “DiGiorno Pizza understands the challenges that come with carry out and delivery pizza so we’re sending you a gift along with a year supply of DiGorno pizza so you can skip carry out.”
Burleson returned that season on Nov. 24 and made an immediate impact in Detroit’s 21-24 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He caught seven passes for 77 yards and scored a touchdown. The former third round NFL draft pick out of Nevada in 2003 finished the season with 461 receiving yards.
The Calgary, Canada, native spent 11 seasons in the NFL with the Vikings, Lions, Seattle Seahawks and Cleveland Browns. He amassed 5,630 receiving yards and 39 touchdowns on 457 receptions over that span.
Now, you can find Burleson all over TV. He works for NFL Network on Good Morning Football and CBS Sports on The NFL Today. He’s also appeared on the entertainment news show Extra.
In 2019, Burleson received some flak for defending the referees’ no-call in the Los Angeles Rams-New Orleans Saints in the 2018 NFC Championship Game during halftime of the New England Patriots-Kansas City Chiefs AFC Championship game.
As for anything pizza-related, it’s probably best for NFL players to stay away from the Italian delicacy. DeAngelo Hall in 2014 tore his Achilles making a pizza in his home.
This is truly the only way to save a pizza.
If we can learn anything from Burleson’s pizza-filled, broken arm car crash, it’s that sometimes it’s better to just skip all the hassle and go with delivery.