Jim Burrow: Wherever He Goes, Joe Is “Going To Buy In”

The Burrow family hasn’t purchased any Bengals gear just yet, but they’re very much looking forward to the NFL Draft on Thursday

Zach Gelb
April 20, 2020 - 9:04 am
Joe Burrow LSU Alabama

USA Today Images


In just a few days, Joe Burrow, we think, will be the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft and will be, we think, a Cincinnati Bengal.

For Burrow, the path to Thursday night has been long and winding.

“There were signs that he was a really good athlete starting in third grade when he was playing quarterback on the little league team here in town,” his father, Jim Burrow, said on The Zach Gelb Show. “He was really good in baseball and basketball, and you just start seeing some of the things he was doing athletically and figure out, ‘Hey, he’s making good decisions as a fourth-grader.’ You’re seeing him throw deep passes and scramble – a lot of those things that you saw this year.”

By the time Burrow was a sophomore at Athens High School in Ohio, Jim knew that playing Division I football was a possibility.

“An NFL quarterback, that was still kind of a faraway dream at that time,” Jim said. “But even at Ohio State, when he would get in the spring game and stuff, I knew he had a chance to at least get a shot in the NFL at some point in time.”

Burrow committed to Ohio State in 2014. He played in 10 games in two years for the Buckeyes, serving as a backup to J.T. Barrett. Once Dwayne Haskins was named the starting quarterback prior to the 2018 season, Burrow transferred to LSU, leading the Tigers to a respectable 10-3 finish and Fiesta Bowl win. 

In 2019, however, LSU went 15-0 and won the national championship, as Burrow threw for 60 touchdowns en route to winning the Heisman Trophy.

“I certainly felt that they had a great opportunity to improve,” Jim said of LSU’s 2019 season. “But to say I thought they were going to go take that big jump like they did, that wouldn’t be true.”

In recent months, there was speculation that Burrow did not want to play for the Bengals and would potentially try to force his way out of Cincinnati. Jim doesn’t know where that storyline came from.

“We just focused on what we knew to be true, and that was the fact that Joe was going to be happy wherever he went,” Jim said. “You don’t have a lot of control over it, which we’ve all known that is what the draft is all about. He’s very blessed and fortunate to be in [this] position. We’re just looking forward to [the draft], whoever it might be. He’s going to buy in.”

That said, the Burrow family hasn’t purchased any Bengals gear just yet.

“No, who knows what can happen in the draft?” said Jim, an eighth-round pick in 1976. “It’s a long time ago, but I had heard from all these teams that they were interested [in me] . . . and the one team that I had never even heard from drafted me, the Packers, back then. The draft always has some things that surprise everybody. We’re just happy that Joe has played as well as he’s had to put him in a position to be drafted hopefully as high as he’s going to be.”