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Nate Burleson takes on-field passion to 'Good Morning Football'

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With a football in hand, Nate Burleson launched into celebration mode. He waved his arms and did a few dance steps.

However, Burleson wasn't in the end zone. Rather, he was in a TV studio wearing a jacket and slacks.

Burleson's dance was sparked by him correctly answering a question during a segment of "What would Bill Belichick say?" Now, maybe the feat isn't quite the same as the 39 touchdowns he scored during his 11-year NFL career, but Burleson is still bringing it just like he did on the field.

"Every day, man," Burleson said. "You've got to have the energy every day."

The former receiver for Minnesota, Seattle and Detroit, is flourishing in his new role on "Good Morning Football" on NFL Network. The three-hour show, which airs weekdays from 7 to 10 a.m. ET, is the network's first to originate from New York. Executive produced by Michael Davies of Embassy Row ("Men in Blazers," "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" and "Watch What Happens Live"), "Good Morning Football" obviously focuses on the NFL. But it also goes beyond with talk about other sports, entertainment, fashion, politics and more.

"Basically it is 'Good Morning Football' meets 'Good Morning America,' " said Burleson, who is on a panel that also features Kay Adams, Peter Schrager and Kyle Brandt.

Burleson actually started to prepare for this kind of opportunity as a player. Midway through his career, he said he thought about "a plan B" for his post-football days. Never shy in front of the microphone, Burleson decided to further his education when he went to the NFL's Broadcast Boot Camp in 2012. He recalled it was "a humbling" experience.

"The biggest thing I learned is that I didn't know anything," Burleson said. "It was like being a rookie and the coach saying, 'You might think you're hot stuff, but I'm going to put you in your place.' I realized there was a lot more to it than just being good at answering questions after a game. It was an eye-opener."

Burleson began to study announcers and analysts the same way he broke down game film. Once while watching a football show with his wife, he turned down the sound.

"She said, 'Why are you doing that?' " Burleson recalled. "I said, 'I've got to see their body language.' I talked too much with my hands. I had to get better at that."

Burleson did learn his lessons and joined the NFL Network in 2014. After working two years in the studio in Los Angeles, he was approached about moving to New York to do the network's new morning show.

It has required a few adjustments for Burleson. He still is trying to get used to a 3:45 a.m. wake-up call so he can be in the studio by 5 a.m. for the pre-show production meeting. There are days where at noon, "It feels like I've been hit by a ton of bricks," he said. However, a little sleep deprivation is worth the opportunity to do a different kind of NFL show. He enjoys the variety that goes beyond the Xs-and-Os analysis and the chance to showcase his personality.

"For so long, traditional football TV catered to one demographic: The middle-aged man who loves everything about football," Burleson said. "You've got to realize there are children who are just learning about the game. There are 30-year-old guys who are on the fence and their only interest is being in fantasy. There are women who know more about football than their boyfriends. Maybe they are looking for some talk about fashion along with fantasy football?

"You have to look at creative ways to reach those people. Fans don't know what they like until you give them something they like."

Burleson feels "Good Morning Football" has come a long way since its debut in early August. Initially, he said after the first few shows there was a feeling of, "Was that any good? I don't know."

Burleson, though, was pleased that none of the members of his new team went home after the initial shows. They all stayed around to discuss what they could do better.

While Burleson admits "Good Morning Football" still is a work in progress, he is seeing evidence that it is gaining traction. He is stopped on the streets of New York by people telling him they wake up or do their morning workouts to the show. Burleson was particularly heartened by a tweet from a viewer saying he watches the show while working the overnight shift in California (it comes on at 4 a.m. there).

"We want our show to be a destination in the morning," Burleson said. "Our ultimate goal is to transcend football television. If Steph Curry hits a game-winning shot, we're going to talk about it. If Tiger Woods makes a comeback, we're going to talk about it. Maybe there's a new movie or something in fashion. We'll talk about that. I want everyone to stop in."

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