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Burnett Hangs Success on Execution

Linebacker's past provides him perspective

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 17: Linebacker Kevin Burnett #99 of the San Diego Chargers celebrates a play against the New York Jets during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Qualcomm Stadium on January 17, 2010 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

    Chargers linebacker Kevin Burnett speaks with the same intensity he carries on the field.

    Every word is a blitz. Every sentence is a sack.

    The scars on his body are what power his voice. His skin wears the receipts to the 10 surgeries he can't refund. The screws inside his neck and memories of painkillers and hospital beds are the tolls he's paid to play this game.

    That last word hardly seems to fit. Not with Burnett.

    “You go out there and play like your life depends on it because it really does,” Burnett, 27, said. “Having as many body parts operated on as I've had, you can lose a lot playing this football game.”

    For a man who views football in terms of life and death, the word Burnett uses to hinge the Chargers' success this year is only fitting: execution.

    If the Chargers are still standing after the regular season, if they last in the playoffs, if they survive the Super Bowl, it'll be because of execution.

    “Nobody knows how good we're going to be,” Burnett said. “If we execute, we'll be good. If we don't execute, then we'll be a mediocre, middle-of-the-pack football team.

    “That's something we have to make up our mind to do as a defense and as a team as well. It's time for us to step up to the plate and actually do what we're capable of doing.”

    There won't always be a second chance.