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NFL Star Nate Burleson Lionblood Saved My Football Career

12/15/2013 12:30 AM PST

Detroit Lions Nate Burleson -- Lionblood Saved My Football Career

NFL star Nate Burleson was on the brink of losing his football career to depression and addiction ... when he was able to turn his life around by pursuing his dream of starting his own clothing line.

According to Nate, it all started when he tore his ACL back in 2008 ... and began to seriously question his future in the NFL.

The Lions WR tells TMZ Sports "I vividly remember sitting in my hotel room, with pain pills next to me, thinking I could take these pills and go down to happy hour at the hotel bar, and drown away my pain."

Burleson says although he never abused the pills -- the temptation forced him to find a goal outside of football ... so he decided to pursue his passion for designing clothes.

Nate founded Lionblood Clothing earlier this year ... and proudly tells us the company is already turning a profit, and his threads are on racks in 25 retail stores in the Detroit area.

NB says he's tossed a few free samples to teammates Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush. Smart move ... can't find a bigger billboard than Megatron.

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