Bears tight end Trey Burton stood at his locker Monday, trying to explain how he woke up Saturday with a groin injury so severe that it forced him to sit out his team’s biggest game of the season.
Burton admitted that he wondered whether the injury was related at all to anxiety but decided it wasn’t.
Either way, it hurt.
“I let my team down,” he said. “I hate it.”
Burton said his groin felt a little stiff Friday, but he had no limitations in practice. He thought it was typical soreness and left Halas Hall without getting treatment.
When he woke up Saturday morning, he said his groin was “completely locked.”
“I had a tough time walking,” he said, “tough time really doing anything.”
He got to Halas Hall early Saturday and said he did everything possible to loosen it up. By Saturday night, the team reported him as questionable for the wild-card game Sunday against the Eagles, his former team.
Burton said he tried to loosen it up Sunday morning to no avail.
It sounds strange, but it has happened earlier in his career, particularly with his lower back.
“The history of my body, that’s what it does — it locks up when it feels any threat,” he said. “Over time, if you look at the history of my injuries, whenever it feels like it’s threatened or something could possibly happen that’s serious, my body locks up. And that’s what happened to me my whole career.”
Burton has spoken before about his struggles with anxiety — he even wrote a blog for The Increase last year saying he “grew up in a family where high anxiety was the norm” — but said he didn’t believe that was to blame this weekend.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “I was in a really good spot mentally going into this game. I was extremely excited to play my former team. And obviously a playoff game, as well. I was really looking forward to competing with those guys that I played with for four years.
“I thought about it. I just don’t think it had anything mentally to do with it. But it’s over now.”
Burton, who hadn’t missed a game all season, said it wasn’t until just before the Bears put out their inactives list Sunday that he realized he wouldn’t be able to play. The conversation with coach Matt Nagy was difficult, he said.
“I have to look him in his eye and tell him I can’t go — that’s the last thing you want to do,” he said. “Especially playing my former team. I wouldn’t want to say it. . . . If there was ever one game I would want to play in, it would be that one.
“So it definitely is not easy. I mean, he understood, and he was there for me. But it’s not fun.”