Quarterback is the position in football in which swag comes with the job. Quarterbacks are the only players on the field who constantly have the ball in their hands. They make the calls in the huddle, organize the team at the line of scrimmage, and once the play begins, it’s their show. No one moves until they’re ready, they ultimately decide where the ball goes, and once they drop back, all eyes are on the QB to see what move he will make and whether it’s by land or by air.
Even if a particular quarterback is not cool by nature — Mike Winchell in Friday Night Lights for example — the responsibility, the attention, the playcard, the number that normally falls from 19-1, the quarterback is that dude on a football team regardless of social awkwardness.
There is nothing awkward about Joseph “Shiesty” Burrow. From the moment he ran out onto that Tiger Stadium field with that Burreaux jersey on for Senior Day, it’s clear that the Athens, Ohio native knows how to own the moment. It hasn’t changed in the pros as he has led the Cincinnati Bengals to the Super Bowl for the first time since before Michael Jordan had played in an Eastern Conference Final.
Of course he had his trademark cigar after the win. Then at the press conference he called us all broke in the most casual, in the kindest way possible. He was asked about the diamonds in his chain and if they are real. His reply was, “I make too much money for them not to be.”
Why you gotta drag us like that, Joe? Some of us are like Bengals legend Chad Johnson and buy our earrings from Claire’s or mall kiosks. We can’t floss like you.
In all seriousness though, it’s nice to see Burrow embracing the star turn that he has taken over the last few years. He went from not being able to beat out Dwayne Haskins for the starting job at Ohio State, to a Heisman Trophy winner, a national title, and the now leading the freaking Bengals to the Super Bowl in his first full season as a starter (his rookie season was cut short due to injury). While he hasn’t been throwing for 450 yards and five touchdowns every week in the playoffs, he has made the timely plays necessary to get the Bengals through three nail-biting games. Against the Chiefs on Sunday he was without his top tight end, C.J. Uzomah for most of the game.
Uzomah suffered a knee injury early and was carted off of the field — the injury is believed to be a sprained MCL. The loss of a dependable, huge, 49-catch target might have been catastrophic for most young quarterbacks, but Burrow pushed through. He passed, he ran, he handed the ball to Joe Mixon, and the Bengals were able to take down the Chiefs the same way they knocked off the Tennessee Titans the week before, with a game-winning field goal.
It’s Burrow’s level-headed play and confidence in himself and in his receivers in man-to-man coverage that has resulted in a dream season for the young quarterback. It also doesn’t hurt to have a rookie kicker with stones the size of grapefruits to save games.
Burrow is owning the field and he is owning his place in the NFL world. If he played for a team that’s not the Cincinnati Bengals, he’d probably be a star outside of football already with his own cheesy insurance commercial.
For now he’ll have to settle for being a playmaker and infinitely cooler than the quarterback on the other team when the Super Bowl takes place on Feb. 13.