Joe Burrow Is Taking Over the NFL
Joe Burrow is just getting started. After upsetting the Kansas City Chiefs on the road in the 2022 AFC championship game, the Cincinnati Bengals and Burrow became one of the hottest topics in sports.
Interest in the young quarterback has only grown since he played in his first Super Bowl on Feb. 13, 2022, against the Los Angeles Rams in Los Angeles.
While he won't be at the 2023 Super Bowl, here's everything you need to know about Burrow, who is on the cusp of becoming one of the most popular athletes on the planet. A quarterback with the world at his fingertips.
Born Into a Sports Family
Joseph Lee Burrow was born on Dec. 10, 1996, in Ames, Iowa — the youngest of Jim and Robin Burrow's three sons following older brothers Jamie and Dan.
Burrow was born into a sports family. His grandmother set the Mississippi high school basketball state record when she scored 82 points in a single game, his grandfather played basketball for Mississippi State, and his uncle, John Burrow, played football for Ole Miss.
Burrow's father was a star football player for Armory (Miss.) High before he went on to play defensive back for the University of Nebraska in the 1970s. Both of Burrow's older brothers then played for the Huskers as well.
Joe Learned the Game From His Father, Jim Burrow
After starring for the University of Nebraska, Jim Burrow was an eighth-round pick by the Green Bay Packers in the 1976 NFL draft.
He played one year for the Packers before playing four seasons in the Canadian Football League, where he was a two-time CFL All-Star and won a Grey Cup with the Montreal Alouettes in 1977.
After his playing career, Jim Burrow embarked on a career as a defensive assistant coach that stretched over four decades. It included stops at Washington State, Iowa State (where Joe Burrow was born), Nebraska, North Dakota State, and his last and longest stop at the University of Ohio, where he was the defensive coordinator from 2005 to 2016 before adding associate head coach to his title in 2017.
Becoming a High School Football Star in Ohio
Joe Burrow was a high school football and basketball star at Athens High School in The Plains, Ohio, where his father became the defensive coordinator for Ohio University in 2005, when Joe Burrow was 9 years old.
Even in his own family, when it came to football, Joe Burrow was unique. While his father and older brothers all played defense, he was a quarterback. He started three years for The Plains, leading them to their first three playoff appearances in school history, first seven playoff victories and a 14-1 record as a senior.
For his career, Burrow threw for 11,416 yards and 157 touchdowns to go with 2,067 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns.
Playing for a Power Five Powerhouse
Joe Burrow was a three-star recruit, according to 247Sports, and the No. 8 dual-threat quarterback in the Class of 2015. Standing 6-foot-4, he was also an all-state basketball player who had offers to play hoops at several mid-major universities.
There was never any doubt what sport Joe Burrow would play in college. It was only a question of where he would play, with 17 offers from FBS schools. Although not from Nebraska, where Burrow's father and two older brothers played.
Burrow committed to play for head coach Urban Meyer at Ohio State, picking the Buckeyes over Ohio, where his father coached, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Iowa State and Cincinnati, among others.
Looking Up From the Bottom of the Ohio State Depth Chart
One year after winning the first College Football Playoff Championship in 2014, Ohio State brought a skinny freshman quarterback into the fold with Joe Burrow, a local star who was named Mr. Ohio Football in 2014.
Burrow found himself buried on the depth chart right away. He redshirted in 2015 before backing up three-time All-Big Ten quarterback J.T. Barrett in 2016 and 2017, where he and Dwayne Haskins rotated between the No. 2 and No. 3 spot on the depth chart.
Haskins gained the upper hand for the starting quarterback spot after leading the Buckeyes to a comeback win at Michigan in 2017 and narrowly beat out Burrow for the starting job during the spring football season in 2018.
Graduate Transfer Rule Lands Burrow at LSU
After losing the competition to start at quarterback for Ohio State in 2018 to Dwayne Haskins, Joe Burrow took advantage of the NCAA graduate transfer rule and began looking for a school to play for his last two years of eligibility.
Because Burrow graduated from Ohio State with his bachelor's degree in consumer and financial services in three years, he was eligible to play right away wherever he transferred and enrolled in graduate school.
Nebraska head coach Scott Frost gave Burrow his second taste of disappointment from his dream school when he decided not to offer a scholarship. Burrow announced he was transferring to LSU on May 18, 2018, where he would play for head coach Ed Orgeron.
Burrow Named LSU Starter After Training Camp
Joe Burrow won the starting job at LSU during training camp, beating out sophomore Myles Brennan. Burrow and LSU started the season 5-0 and climbed to No. 5 in the national rankings before losing at No. 20 Florida.
LSU finished the season 10-3, and capped things off with a 40-32 win over Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl and were No. 6 in the final national rankings.
Burrow was impressive in his first year as a college starter, passing for 2,894 yards, 16 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also showed some mobility, rushing for 399 yards and seven touchdowns.
He Then Led LSU to a Record-Breaking Regular Season in 2019
Ohio University associate head coach and defensive coordinator Jim Burrow retired following the 2018 season in order to watch his youngest son, Joe, play his senior season for LSU in 2019. It would be the first time in 51 years the elder Burrow would not spend the fall as either a player or a coach.
Burrow, in his second season as LSU's starter, became the biggest story in all of college football. The Tigers started off ranked No. 6 and climbed to No. 1 after a win over No. 9 Auburn on Oct. 26, beat No. 2 Alabama for the first time in eight years on Nov. 9 and closed out a perfect, 12-0 regular season with a 50-7 win over Texas A&M on Senior Night in Baton Rouge.
Burrow whipped the crowd at Tiger Stadium into an emotional frenzy when he came out for his senior intro with a specially made "Burreaux" nameplate on his jersey. Epic stuff.
Heisman Trophy Moment to Remember
Joe Burrow broke almost every LSU passing record and swept all the major college football awards in 2019, taking home the Maxwell Award, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Davey O'Brien Award, Lombardi Award and Manning Award.
His Heisman Trophy victory came by another record-setting margin — 1,800 votes more than the runner-up (Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts), giving Burrow the biggest win and most points (2,608) in the history of the award.
In one of the greatest Heisman Trophy speeches of all time, Burrow made a point of mentioning the rampant poverty and food insecurity in his hometown of Athens, Ohio, triggering $450,000 in donations to a local food bank from 13,000 donors.
The Greatest College Football Team Ever?
The conversation about the greatest college football team of all time must now always include the 2019 LSU Tigers and Burrow, who capped a 15-0 season with blowout wins over No. 4 Georgia in the SEC championship game, No. 4 Oklahoma in the CFP semifinals and No. 3 Clemson in the CFP national championship game.
Burrow set the single-season FBS records with 60 touchdown passes and a 202.0 passer rating while throwing for 5,671 yards. In particular, he had a special connection with sophomore receiver and Biletnikoff Award winner Ja'Marr Chase, a unanimous All-American who racked up 1,780 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns in 2019.
High School Stadium Named After Burrow
Following his emotional Heisman Trophy victory, it didn't take long for Joe Burrow's alma mater, Athens High School, to honor their favorite son by naming the school's football stadium after him, announcing it in a Facebook post.
"In recognition of Mr. Burrow's accomplishments, the Athens City School District Board of Education does hereby direct the Superintendent and the Athens High School Administration to take such actions as are necessary to name the Athens High School Football Stadium the Joe Burrow Stadium and to work with the Athens High School Booster Club and the Athens High School Bulldog Blitz to plan a ceremony to celebrate this honor."
Lowly Bengals Take Burrow No. 1 Overall in 2020 NFL Draft
The Cincinnati Bengals went 2-14 in 2019, granting them the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL draft.
Following Burrow's record-setting year, it was a no-brainer he would be taken with the No. 1 pick — an amazing turnaround from Burrow being projected as either a late-round pick or undrafted free agent before his senior season.
Because the draft occurred during the pandemic, Burrow's selection came with him sitting at home in his parent's living room in Ohio. Burrow was the first quarterback taken by the Bengals in the first round since they selected another Heisman Trophy winner, Carson Palmer, with the No. 1 overall pick in 2003.
Welcome to the Cincinnati Bengals. The 1980s Were Awesome. The 1990s Were Not.
The Cincinnati Bengals were a mostly respectable NFL franchise for much of the 1970s and 1980s. They made the playoffs three times in each decade and made it to the Super Bowl twice in the 1980s, following the 1982 and 1988 seasons. Both times they lost to the San Francisco 49ers.
After losing in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs following the 1990 season, the Bengals did not return to the playoffs again until 2005. The franchise's undoing came with back-to-back No. 1 overall picks in 1994 (defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson) and 1995 (Ki-Jana Carter) that both flamed out spectacularly.
Who Have Been the Best Quarterbacks in Cincinnati History?
The 1980s were great for the Cincinnati Bengals in large part because of two great quarterbacks who led the franchise.
Ken Anderson played his entire career for the Bengals, from 1971 to 1986, and was named NFL Most Valuable Player in 1981, when he led Cincinnati to the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history.
Boomer Esiason followed Anderson as the Bengals' starting quarterback and was named NFL Most Valuable Player in 1988, when Cincinnati made it to the Super Bowl once again.
Seeing a pattern here?
Burrow's Rookie NFL Season Was Marred by Injury
Joe Burrow signed a four-year, $36.1 million rookie contract with the Cincinnati Bengals at the end of July 2020 and was the only rookie starting quarterback in the NFL on opening day of the regular season.
The Bengals struggled but were competitive, and Burrow became the first rookie quarterback in NFL history with three consecutive games with more than 300 yards passing.
Burrow's season came to an end in Week 11 against the Washington Football Team, when he tore his ACL and MCL in his left knee, along with damage to his PCL and meniscus. The Bengals finished the season 4-11-1, with Burrow going 2-7-1 as the starter.
'Surgeon to the Stars' Fixes Burrow's Knee
With their franchise quarterback suffering a potentially career-altering injury as a rookie, the Cincinnati Bengals turned to Los Angeles-based orthopedic surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the team physician for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Rams, to perform the surgery on Joe Burrow's damaged knee.
Dr. ElAttrache's fame — he's been referred to as "surgeon to the stars" — did not come out of nowhere. He earned a reputation as a great surgeon thanks in large part to the work he did reconstructing Tom Brady's knee following a major injury in 2008. And Brady credited his work for helping keep his career going.
Dr. ElAttrache is also Sylvester Stallone's brother-in-law, which is pretty cool.
Burrow Recovers in Time for 2021 Season Opener
Joe Burrow went at his recovery from knee surgery with the same determination that made him a national champion, Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall draft pick.
On Sept. 6, the Bengals announced Burrow had completed his recovery from surgery and would be the starter for their Week 1 game against the Minnesota Vikings — just 10 months after his knee injury and just in time to lead the Bengals to an overtime win in the opener.
Burrow also entered 2021 with a familiar face on his side of the ball after the Bengals selected LSU wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase with the No. 5 overall pick, reuniting the two college teammates.
The Bengals Are Good Now? The Bengals Are Good Now!
The odds of the Cincinnati Bengals winning the Super Bowl before the 2021 season were 125-1. Most experts thought the team was probably a year or two from even making the playoffs.
Burrow and company didn't listen to all that. After an overtime loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Dec. 12, the Bengals reeled off three consecutive wins, capped by a playoff-clinching 34-31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in which Burrow threw for 446 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Bengals finished the regular season 10-7, won the AFC North and made the playoffs for the first time since 2015.
Getting by With a Little Help From His Friends
No player had a bigger impact on Joe Burrow and the Bengals' success in 2021 than rookie wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, who opted out of the 2020 college season after helping lead LSU to a national title in 2019 alongside Burrow.
Chase was a sensation as a rookie, breaking the franchise record with 1,455 receiving yards, 81 receptions and 13 touchdowns. Chase was named an NFL All-Pro and earned his first Pro Bowl berth. He was also named AFC Offensive Player of the Week twice.
Bengals Party Like It's 1991
Cincinnati fans would probably have been pretty happy if the season had ended with an AFC wild-card loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, but Cincinnati wasn't having it.
The Bengals pulled off the win for their home fans over the visiting Raiders, 26-19, prompting head coach Zac Taylor to hand out game balls to local bars around the stadium following the game.
It was the first playoff victory for the Bengals since 1991.
All-Time Meltdown by the Chiefs, All-Time Upset by the Bengals
The Bengals pulled off an upset in the AFC divisional round by taking down the Tennessee Titans on the road, but nothing could have prepared the football world for what happened in the AFC championship game.
The Bengals started the game as a 7-point underdog against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. It looked like it was going to be a long day for Cincinnati.
Trailing 21-3 in the first half and 21-10 at halftime, the Bengals stormed back behind Burrow as Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and his team absolutely melted down — culminating in a 24-21 win by the Bengals on a field goal from Evan McPherson in overtime.
Recreating an Iconic Moment
Cincinnati Bengals rookie defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin was Joe Burrow's teammate at LSU and won a national championship alongside him in 2020. He also created an iconic moment in LSU history when the 6-foot-3, 346-pound Shelvin carried Burrow off the field after a win over Alabama.
Shelvin showed he understood how history works — and how going viral works — when he recreated the moment after the Bengals won the AFC championship with an upset win over the Kansas City Chiefs, carrying his friend and teammate off the field once again.
The Last Time the Bengals Made the Super Bowl
This was the third time the Cincinnati Bengals were in the Super Bowl, with the previous two times ending in losses to the San Francisco 49ers.
The second loss, in Super Bowl XXIII on Jan. 22, 1989, at Joe Robbie Stadium in MIami, Florida, ended up being one of the most memorable finishes in NFL history.
Trailing the Bengals 16-13 with 3:10 remaining in the fourth quarter, Joe Montana and the 49ers engineered a 93-yard drive, capped by a touchdown pass from Montana to John Taylor with 34 seconds left for the win.
It's also known as the "John Candy Drive" to football fans.
Burrow Enters Rare Club With Super Bowl Start
Joe Burrow was just the seventh quarterback in NFL history to start in the Super Bowl in either his first or second season. Here are the other six and what happened in the big game:
- Super Bowl XIX, Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins (lost to San Francisco 49ers)
- Super Bowl XXXIV, Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams (beat Tennessee Titans)
- Super Bowl XXXVI, Tom Brady, New England Patriots (beat St. Louis Rams)
- Super Bowl XL, Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (beat Seattle Seahawks)
- Super Bowl XLVII, Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers (lost to Baltimore Ravens)
- Super Bowl XLVIII, Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (beat Denver Broncos)
Showdown of Former No. 1 Picks at Quarterback
The Bengals lost Super Bowl LVI to the Rams, and the starting quarterback for the winning team, Mathew Stafford, walked away as a Super Bowl champion for the first time.
Both quarterbacks were also former No. 1 overall selections. Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford was in his first season with the team after playing the first 12 seasons of his career with the lowly Detroit Lions. He was selected No. 1 overall out of the University of Georgia in 2009.
It was only the second time in Super Bowl history that two former No. 1 picks squared off at quarterback — 1998 No. 1 pick Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos defeated 2010 No. 1 pick Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
Taking a Shot at Football History
Here's a crazy football fact for you. No quarterback has ever won a national championship, Heisman Trophy and Super Bowl.
Joe Burrow got his shot in Super Bowl LVI with the Cincinnati Bengals. Only one other quarterback even had the opportunity. Cam Newton won a national championship with Auburn in 2010, the same year he won the Heisman Trophy, but lost to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50.
For Burrow, Madison Avenue Appeal Could Be Enormous
Joe Burrow doesn't have a lot of endorsements right now on the level of veteran quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, but Burrow has openly stated that he plans to use his endorsement money to live off of and would try not to touch any part of his four-year, $36 million contract with the Bengals.
Burrow's one noticeable endorsement deal now is with Lordstown Motors, an electric truck company. And whatever his endorsement profile was before the 2021 season, it's vastly different now with a Super Bowl appearance.
Expect Burrow to cash in, big time. Brady reportedly has made between $10 million and 15 million from endorsements per year for at least the last decade.
What Is Burrow Like Off the Field?
Football fans across the country are just starting to get to know Joe Burrow as a quarterback, and along with that interest comes questions about what he's like away from the field.
We all know a lot about Burrow's family and his sports background, but his personal life isn't really out there like athletes we've been around for a long time. We know he likes to smoke cigars and loves to dance.
As far as his dating life, Burrow isn't married but does have a longtime girlfriend in Olivia Holzmacher, who he began dating while he was still at Ohio State.
New Wave of Young QBs Now Rule the NFL
Joe Burrow is just one of a young crop of talented young quarterbacks who are taking over the NFL, which is happening just as the careers of longtime standouts like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger — all three of whom won Super Bowls — come to a close.
In the AFC, besides Burrow, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has already won an MVP and a Super Bowl. Baltimore Ravens quarterback and fellow Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson also has an MVP in the trophy case.
Another quarterback on the way up is Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, who made his first Pro Bowl after the 2021 season.
Ready or Not, It's Burrow Time
Joe Burrow hasn't wasted any time making a name for himself. From Joe Brrr to Joe Shiesty to Joey Franchise, Burrow has a lot of nicknames as well.
He also has the talent to be an NFL superstar and the new face of the league. That's not all. Only two quarterbacks have ever won a national title and Super Bowl — Joe Namath and Joe Montana. Joe Burrow would be the third.
That's what you call next-level cold.