It's hard to believe it's been less than a week since the Dolphins signed Philip Wheeler and released Kevin Burnett. For Burnett, it has been a trying time. In fact, he described it as "the longest four days of my life."
But there was a happy ending waiting at the end of that long four days -- when he flew out to meet with the Oakland Raiders and consequently have a team again.
It's an understandably difficult and uneasy situation to be in for this veteran NFL linebacker. But if there was one place that might feel as much like home as could be, it would be the Raiders.
It isn't the closest to his actual hometown of Inglewood California -- that would be San Diego where he played for two seasons from 2009-10 - but it was his hometown team as the Raiders were in Los Angeles for the first 13 years of his life. Even so, what makes Oakland and the Raiders feel most like home is the people there waiting for him - his little brother Kaelin, and former coach, Tony Sparano.
Kaelin in 7 years younger than Kevin and when Kaelin made the Raiders regular season roster last season, he was proud like any big brother would be of his baby brother.
"We were both excited," said Kevin. "It was exciting just to know that now you have two of you playing in the National Football League. I'm not sure if there's ever in the history of the NFL, been two brothers that have played on the same team. I'd have to do my homework on it. I want to say that's a first. It'll probably be more exciting if we're on the field at the same time."
Now the two siblings get to experience that rare instance of being teammates and therefore have a very good chance of taking the same field together. You could hear the pride in his voice when he spoke of his uncompromising love and respect for Kaelin and how his role upon coming to the Raiders reflects that.
"Oh man, that's my brother," he said. "I think the biggest thing was I told them was I wasn't coming in to play the same position as my brother. I'll go on record saying that. I want to make sure that we all understand that I'm coming in here to assist my brother, first and foremost, and come in here and play the best I can, provide leadership, and ownership of your responsibilities.."
Kaelin lines up at strongside linebacker for the Raiders and Kevin is more known as a weakside linebacker, so playing the same position wasn't an issue.
Most times, the connections players have with former teams are not actual siblings, but coaches. That holds true here as well as his former head coach who brought him to Miami two seasons ago, Tony Sparano, is the Raiders offensive line coach. The two also spent four years together in Dallas while Sparano was offensive line coach for the Cowboys.
"Oh, me and Tony go back. Tony is actually out of those eight years I've been in the league, he's seen me play in five of them, so he's been my head coach for one... he's been able to watch me grow and mature as a player. I think it was very important to me getting here because I don't think I was even on the radar and I don't think they would have brought me in without Tony having the first-hand experience with me."
Burnett may credit Sparano with getting him on the Raiders radar but there's no question the Raiders can use his services as they rebuild their linebacking corps. In that regard, it was a good fit all around.
After all was said and done, the Raiders being sparse at linebacker didn't last long and neither did Burnett's time without a team. Both sides now have plenty to be happy about finding each other.