By Doug Fernandes, GateHouse Media Services
Trey Burton awoke Tuesday with a sinking feeling.
Actually, the feeling already had sunk in.
The University of Florida graduate was a world champion.
“The last two mornings I’ve woken up and tried to see if this really happened or not,” he said. “It did.”
Win a Super Bowl, as Burton did Sunday night as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, and attention can’t be avoided.
But have a hand, literally, in doing something never before accomplished in a Super Bowl and the interest becomes national.
Appearances on TNT and TMZ Sports. A scheduled appearance Tuesday on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” was canceled.
All this attention because Burton threw the shortest pass possible on a football field. On fourth down. From the 1-yard line of the New England Patriots. To Eagle quarterback Nick Foles. For a touchdown.
“He’s got some guts, man,” Burton said of Eagle head coach Doug Pederson. “I’ve never seen anything like that. I love it.”
The trick play happened with 34 seconds remaining before halftime. At the time the Eagles were nursing a 15-12 lead. Conventional wisdom dictated a field-goal attempt.
So much for convention.
Burton said the play, called “Philly Special,” had been installed sometime during the Eagles’ playoff run. But such a call is dependent on timing and game situation.
This was the time. Not that Burton knew it before Foles relayed the play in the huddle.
“I had no clue,” he said. “We have so many different plays that we can call. Normally in practice I know, but everything was happening so fast. It wasn’t until I got into the huddle and Foles called the play. That’s when I knew.”
In the formation Burton lined up 2 yards off the line of scrimmage, to Foles’ left. In the backfield with Foles was running back Corey Clement.
“Foles starts our cadence,” Burton said, “shifts the running back … and then Foles walks up to the line of scrimmage to make it look like he’s changing the play. He says ‘kill’ and then he says ‘kill’ and ‘lane’ and on the second ‘lane,’ the center snaps the ball to the running back and the running back goes left and tosses me the ball on a reverse.”
As this happened, Foles ran uncovered into the Patriot end zone. When Burton got the ball, he saw his quarterback wide open. For the former Indian and Florida Gator quarterback, it was the easiest throw he’s ever had to make.
“It’s a trick play,” he said. “They don’t expect that to happen. We all knew he was going to be wide open. A nice and easy (throw). Coach calls it a butterfly with sore feet. Nice and soft.”
Suppose Foles had been covered? Would Burton have tucked the ball away and tried to run for the score?
“They tried to tell me that plan, (with options) A, B and C, was to run it, but I was never going to run it. I was always going to throw it to Foles.”
It was the first time in Super Bowl history a quarterback had caught a touchdown. And only once before had an ex-Gator quarterback thrown a TD in a Super Bowl, that being Rex Grossman as a Chicago Bear in Super Bowl XLI against the Colts.
Burton now becomes the answer to a trivia question. “It’s pretty cool. I guess I have a pretty high passing rating.”
Winning the Super Bowl fulfilled a life-long dream. But what Burton may remember with as much emotion was the post-game scene.
“It was cool,” he said. “Probably my favorite moment of the whole thing. They asked me to go onto the podium for interviews. I was able to go on the podium with my two oldest kids with me. Soaking in the moment.
“You really don’t know what to expect, honestly. Never really been to a national championship or really an SEC championship or anything even close to that caliber, so it’s really hard to explain or to know what to expect. It definitely was a really, really special moment.”
Burton will remain busy. He will participate in an Eagle parade on Thursday through the streets of Philadelphia. Next month he becomes an unrestricted free agent, able to sign with anyone.
“Obviously I’d love to be back here in Philadelphia because they have something special going on and I would love to be a part of it,” he said. “But I know how it goes. It’s a business and I’m excited to be wanted by other people.”
The football world now knows Trey Burton.
And he couldn’t care less.
“I want to be known as a family man and a man of God. Those things come first and football is secondary behind all that.”
Doug Fernandes is a staff writer with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.