WACO, Texas -- If you’ve seen the video, you might think Terrell Burt is a liar. And he can’t say he blames you for arriving at that conclusion. He has seen it, too.
When he lied down on the field Saturday night, at the instruction of Baylor cornerback Ryan Reid, Burt wasn’t faking an injury. The senior safety legitimately hurt his right ankle. Still, the video didn’t look good.
"I would understand everybody in America seeing that play as like, 'Man, you faked it,'" Burt said Monday. "Just by the video, I can see it. If I looked at it and I was in their shoes, I’d say the same thing."
The fact Burt came back and played the rest of Baylor’s 44-34 loss to Oklahoma probably didn’t help his case, either. He didn’t realize what a big deal it had all become until he checked his phone later that night.
But all the tweets, blog posts and videos that popped up Saturday night accusing Burt of faking an injury were missing something important: his side of the story. The truth is, Burt absolutely did not want to get off the field.
"I just wish they saw the whole deal," he said.
Burt suffered his ankle injury on kickoff coverage, twisting it while being taken down by Connor Knight and Joe Mixon in the fourth quarter. He hopped right up and joined the defense, trying to ignore the pain.
He chased the Sooners’ first offensive play and didn’t feel better. At the end of the second play -- the fateful horsecollar penalty that swung momentum OU’s way -- Burt was seen limping near the sideline. He still tried to stay in, thinking he had no choice.
Baylor had already lost starting safeties Orion Stewart (hamstring) and Chance Waz (shoulder) for the rest of the night. Another backup, Alfred Pullom, didn’t suit up. That meant Burt and Taion Sells were the only experienced reserves available.
"I really didn’t want to go down, because I knew I was the last resort in that game," Burt said. "I tried to stay in there as much as I could."
But Reid could tell Burt needed help. In a 37-34 ballgame, Baylor couldn’t afford to give up a score just because an injured player stubbornly stayed in. Since it was too late for Burt to sub out, Reid told him to get down.
Later that night, Burt and Reid saw the tape and laughed at how bad that probably looked.
"I thought it was funny, the way Ryan threw me down," Burt said. "It was funny. But it was unfortunate."
As he rested on the turf waiting for trainers, Reid had no idea he was about to go viral. On the ABC broadcast, Kirk Herbstreit called Burt's move "bush league" and "unethical." That poured extra gasoline on a firestorm of Twitter outrage.
The broadcast did show Burt sitting on the trainers' table getting his ankle evaluated. He got it taped up and went back to the front of the sideline, desperate to sub in.
"They put Terrence Singleton back there, but he didn’t practice the whole week at safety," Burt said. "So I had to do it. I went back out there for my teammates. I tried to play through it."
After Singleton, a backup cornerback, gave up a 19-yard catch to Sterling Shepard down to the Baylor 9-yard line, Burt returned. He’d only missed six plays. If you knew the context, you knew that was a selfless move. But the brief absence only seemed to increase the skepticism.
Burt understands now he can’t convince everyone he was trying to do the right thing.
"You’re always going to have people who are going to see things like that and say stuff regardless," he said. "There’s still people to this day, I know, who’ll still feel I faked that. That’s fine. If that’s how they feel, that’s how they feel. I’m really hurt and I’m rehabbing. I’ll get back as soon as possible."
Herbstreit did issue an apology on Twitter on Sunday. Burt appreciated the gesture. He does wonder how this ordeal affected his reputation, and he’s going to get tired of explaining what really happened.
But Burt takes comfort in knowing the people who care about him understand what he did was tough, not weak.
"Everybody who really knows me knows I’m a warrior on the field and I give it all I’ve got," Burt said. "Really, to me, that’s all that matters."