The NFL veteran is also a poet, rapper, painter, and wants to explore it all when he co-hosts Gayle King and Tony Dokoupil on a revamped “CBS This Morning”.
Nate Burleson – NFL veteran turned broadcaster – is not easily intimidated. As a wide receiver and returns specialist, he spent his career chasing his six-foot, 200-pound body across a soccer field at terrifying speeds. So if he’s feeling pressure to step into the harsh morning show wars as the newest co-host of a revamped “CBS This Morning”, he won’t let it.
Maybe not. But CBS News executives will be the minutes after Burleson’s debut on Tuesday alongside Gayle King and Tony Dokoupil in a new state-of-the-art studio on the first floor of Viacom headquarters in 1515. Be sure to keep a close eye on Broadway in Times Square. And yes, third place “CTM” will be right across from ABC’s top rated “Good Morning America”. (“GMA” co-host Michael Strahan, another NFL vet, called Burleson to congratulate him on the new appearance.) “We want to be the best version of ourselves,” added Burleson. “And I firmly believe that if we do, and if we go our own way, everything else, including ratings, will take care of itself.”
Burleson, 40, has already successfully reinvented himself in sports broadcast. After his eleven-year playing career ended in 2014, he moved to the NFL Network as an analyst. By 2016, he was named as one of the hosts of the network’s “Good Morning Football”. The following year he became a studio analyst for CBS Sports’ NFL Today, for which he won his first Sports Emmy earlier that year. (He will continue to host “NFL Today”.) He was a correspondent for the syndicated program “Extra” and hosted a podcast on ESPN vertical The Undefeated. He is also the voice of the DraftKings campaigns and has been featured on several tracks by rapper Wizdom, nicknamed New Balance.
He reads and writes poetry; Langston Hughes is a particular favorite. And he’s known for bringing color to canvas. “As a kid, I ran around telling people I was going to be a famous painter,” he laughs.
The third of four boys, he grew up in Seattle in a heavily sports-oriented family. His father was a defensive back in the Canadian Football League. His two older brothers played college football while his younger brother was in the NBA. Burleson met his wife Atoya, who co-hosts the InsideLines podcast, at the University of Nevada, where she was a track star. They have three children – Nathaniel (17), Nehemia (15) and Mia (11).
Burleson earned the job at “CBS This Morning” after a successful guest appearance last spring. But he caught King’s attention a few months earlier when he interviewed Michelle Obama (for “Extra”) with his daughter Mia.
After the interview, Burleson recalls, “she texted me, ‘Hey, this is Gayle King, I just wanted to tell you you’re doing a great job, keep it up. More importantly, your daughter will be a bigger star than you. ‘”
Burleson talks to WWD about his favorite painter he wants to interview on” CBS This Morning “and why he loves New York.
Nate Burleson: My alarm clock has been ringing at 4:45 a.m. for half a decade. The good thing is that I don’t have to change my alarm clock. I’ll be fine Gayle, she has to choose her heels, her fancy clothes. And she’s like the quarterback, so she gets in a little earlier and gets organized. My show (ESPN’s “Good Morning Football”) was from 7am to 10am, so we had an early call every morning. Luckily, getting up early has become a routine for me.
WWD: You already have a lot of jobs – are you hesitant to take on another one?
NB: Yes, full-time father, full-time husband and during the week trainers too, and on top of that, I have five other businesses that I do outside of television. Yes I am busy. But I’ve juggled a lot in the past three years. I am no stranger to being busy. I actually like it that way. I won’t complain a bit. First world problems. And that’s one thing you never hear me complain about because I am blessed to be able to choose between jobs.
NB: There is a younger generation of men and women who are at the forefront of innovation, be it in technology, finance, investors, real estate or cryptocurrencies. I want to tell the stories of this young, hungry generation because I think they are shining examples of how much wealth there is out there.
I also love art, I’ve been writing poetry since I was a child. I’m a storyteller by nature. I am proud of my one-on-one interviews. I’ve known a guy from Seattle like Macklemore for a couple of decades now. Maybe I’ll give him a call and let him talk about his life as an artist, the struggles he went through before he broke through.
N.B .: It just happened organically. I just had the feeling that there are other ways to express myself besides exercise. Langston Hughes was the first poet I was introduced to. And that’s when I realized that I can use poetry as a creative outlet to not only express myself emotionally, but also to tell stories. And I’ve been writing ever since.
N.B .: [Jean-Michel] Basquiat, his art and his brand exploded after his death. How often do we praise the artist after he’s gone? This is a life lesson to me; When you have something you’re good at, create it. Get it out of there.
WWD: Yes, when he couldn’t pay his rent in Brooklyn, he gave drawings to his landlord.
N.B .: Yeah, you see, I’m a West Coast guy, but a lot of my inspiration came from New York. I would never have thought in a million years that I would have moved to the east coast, where so much of my inspiration came from.
Note: No doubt about it. There is beauty in chaos. And that’s another thing I look forward to on CBS This Morning, showing the character of New York. It’s almost like New York is a member of this show, a fourth host, or a correspondent. I look forward to delving into some of these stories. There’s so much more to discover about this city.
WWD: Several NFL players have had successful careers in sports broadcasting, but not that many have moved on to the news.
N.B .: A lot of people want to stay in this area when they’re done. I chose sports television because that’s the path that is open to me. But I’ve always been interested in things beyond sports. I helped start a company that helps athletes invest their money. I opened a restaurant. As an active poet. I never wanted to be just an athlete.
N.B .: NFL players or football players, the best teams coexist harmoniously. It’s not like tennis, golf, or even the NBA where a player can carry a roster. When playing soccer there are 10 other guys on the field at the same time and I have to do my job or the whole team will fall apart. Now, as the recipient, there are times when I am the man; I shoot the touchdown, everyone looks at me, the crowd goes nuts. But most of the time I’m only part of the puzzle.
I also love criticism, I hug it and I ask for it. I remember finishing a show years ago and patting myself on the shoulder, good job, good job. I think sometimes producers do this to build trust in the athlete, a little positive reinforcement. And I remember not having a good show and I stopped the producer, “Hey, it’s okay if you want to tell me I didn’t do well. It’s okay to criticize myself. I want to improve myself in this job. So if you just tell me that every time I walk off the set I’ve done a great job, even if I haven’t, it not only hurts me, it harms the show. So challenge me I’ll answer. “I think these elements make really good TV personalities.
WWD: But it’s a skill, it’s not that someone can come on TV and connect with an audience. And it takes time right? Just ask Gayle, she’s been on the local news for years.
NB: Right, finding my voice took some time. I’ve been in this business for almost a decade. But I had to find out. Who should the viewer hear? I told myself a long time ago if you don’t wake up passionately and love it, don’t. So when you see me on TV with that big smile, I don’t care what it’s about in [ segment] goes, it might be about lunch at school, I’ll dive into it. The night before college, I’ll do my job, I’ll over-prepare. And then I’ll talk about lunch at school when would it be the last thing i’m about will ever speak.
WWD: Is there any piece of advice you got early on that stuck with you?
NB: When I first got into the store, I had this big wedding ring that I wore my earrings occasionally, and [NFL Network Executive] Marc Watts said to me, “You are so eloquent and you make great arguments and what you say is important. But often the viewers get distracted by little things. ”It could be how big your watch is or how big your earrings are. And sometimes it could be your suit. I would be up there, I am doing my thing, I am charming, I smile and I speak every word clearly. And I think that was a great passage and he looked at me and said, “You did all of this and said nothing. Say something. “So I turned it back a lot because I want the viewer to focus on the essentials, the news, the storytelling.
There’s been a lot of work behind the scenes. I’m still in my infancy [Broadcasting] career, I’m still learning, I’m still growing, and I can do it in front of the world, with a front row seat to history, as Gayle King would say.
NB: I’ve already got that Made in football so I hope I don’t do that on morning TV.
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