When you talk about all-time players that made impossible receptions possible, Bryan Burnham is near the top of that list. He announced his retirement today, his last moment as a BC Lion will be remembered with him consoling young quarterback Nathan Rourke after their loss in the West Finals to Winnipeg.
Making it this far in his football career is quite an achievement considering the number of injuries he endured throughout his playing days.
In 2008 he developed a serious infection in his arm which caused him to redshirt his first collegiate season at Tulsa. What is more intriguing to those who watched Burnham perform his magic in BC was that he was a defensive back his first two years at Tulsa.
After a solid season which saw him have 850 yards and 9 touchdowns, Burnham seemed destined to do remarkable things as a senior. Unfortunately, the injury bug hit again as he tore his ACL in the first game of the season.
After going undrafted, Bryan Burnham found a team that wanted his services. Spending most of the year on the BC Lions practice squad in 2014 he finally got his shot in week 13 against the Toronto Argonauts. In his pro debut he caught 5 passes for 90 yards, foreshadowing a distinguished career ahead.
Once again misfortune would hit once again as he lacerated his spleen and was ruled out for the season. His second year in the CFL he put up decent numbers in 11 games played but the best was yet to come.
In 2016 Burnham made BC Lions quarterback Jonathan Jennings look like the second coming of Warren Moon. His 1,392 receiving yards were 27% of the 5,226 yards Jennings threw for that season. This was the first of four straight seasons with over 1,000 yards receiving. It also earned him 10 to 12 workouts with NFL teams that offseason.
With nothing materializing from the workouts Burnham would agree to a new contract with the Lions. In 2021 he had 965 receiving yards in the pandemic shortened 14 game season. This past year he once again dealt with injuries as he suffered a punctured lung and broken ribs early in the season. Only a couple of games after his return he would fracture his wrist. He would remarkably recover in time for the postseason.
The son of former Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Lem Burnham, who also played one game for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1976, Byran Burnham has done his family proud. His brother and two sisters played collegiate sports on scholarships, but none were able to replicate the professional success that he had.
If I was running SportsCenter tonight, no doubt the top ten would be plays made by Bryan Burnham. It would be a difficult task as anyone who watched him play knows there were many more than just 10.
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