Joe Burrow Is Already The Best Quarterback In Cincinnati Bengals History | From Forgotten Backup To Heisman Winner to Culture-Shifter

With all due respect to Boomer Esiason, Carson Palmer and Kenny Anderson, Joe Burrow is already the greatest quarterback in the history of the Bengals.   

It’s been a rough road for the Bengals, one of 12 NFL teams not to win a Super Bowl. They did get there at least, in 1982 and 1989, but overall, the franchise almost has seemed cursed, especially when it came to elite quarterback play.   

But “Joe Kool” just may be the guy to finally lead a championship contender in Ohio. 

Football In The Blood

Burrow is from a football family. His dad Jim had a 40-year career as a player and coach with the Iowa State Cyclones, North Dakota State Bison, and Ohio University.

It won’t be easy to turn the “Bungles” into Big Dawgs, but a special, resilient talent like Burrow — whose football journey is littered with setbacks and being underestimated — might just be the signal caller to change the culture. 


Burrow was born in Ames, Iowa, but was raised just 2.5 hours outside of Cincinnati in Athens, Ohio. He was a two-sport star in high school, excelling on the hardwood and gridiron. Burrow was the No. 8-rated dual threat QB coming out of high school, and he signed with power school Ohio State. 


Transfer To LSU

Burrow was living the dream of every kid who ever played football in the state of Ohio. He just wasn’t getting any PT. He entered the Buckeyes family as a backup to starter JT Barrett for two seasons. Then an injury forced him out of a compeitition with Dwayne Haskins for the starting job in 2018-19. 

Rather than be a backup for a third consecutive season, Burrow made the power move that would finally elevate him to superstardom. He transferred to QB-needy LSU.
The Tigers had been trying to find an adequate signal caller at the position since JaMarcus Russell was airing it out in 2007. 

Burrow was just what Coach Ed Orgeron and the program needed.  A true leader with a high ceiling and an uncanny ability for the big play. Burrow passed for nearly 3,000 yards and 16 TDs leading LSU to a road win over No.7 Auburn and undefeated UCF in the Fiesta Bowl. The groundwork was laid for Burrow and LSU to challenge for a National Championship. 

Magical Season On The Bayou

Folks in Baton Rouge and the SEC were smitten with the possibility of an LSU title. Burrow had weaponry all over the field — Clyde Edwards-Helaire (now with the Chiefs), Justin Jefferson (Vikings) and JaMarr Chase (Bengals) — this team was loaded on paper and thought to be on par with Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma and Ohio State. 

LSU beat Alabama for the first time since 2011 and went undefeated in the SEC, hammering Georgia in the SEC title game. In the CFP Playoff semifinals they ran Oklahoma off the field in the first half and won a laugher. 

Burrow’s final task was defeating a talented Clemson squad to complete his unbelievable two-year journey from forgotten backup to Heisman Trophy winner and national champion.

He capped his fairytale story by producing the greatest individual season ever for a college football quarterback. Burrow posted 5,671 passing yards — third all-time — and a single-season record 60 touchdown passes, breaking the previous record of 58 set by Colt Brennan in 2006. 

Hometown Bengals Take Him No.1

With his growing reputation as a game-changer, Burrow’s NFL journey began when the Bengals made him the No.1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft. He was once again living a dream as the hometown hero and immediately showed why he was taken so high. Burrow exhibited a veteran’s poise and threw for nearly 2,700 yards in 10 games before a torn ACL crushed his rookie season. 

Return Of The Man 

Burrow returned to the gridiron fully healed and has picked up right where he left off, leading the Bengals to a 3-1 record and first place in the AFC North — a division the Bengals haven’t won since 2015. 

Burrows’ signature win this season is a convincing 24-10 road win at rival Pittsburgh. Bringing the Bengals back for a late win against the Jags on Thursday has further enhanced his growing legend. 

New Kids On The Block 

In the AFC North you have Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield and Burrow as the young signal callers of the future for those franchises. The Bengals have the best pure passer of the three. Burrow is fourth in the league in passing yards (988) and second in TDs (9) as of Saturday. You don’t have to run a special offense or scheme for Burrow to be successful. He’s a throwback quarterback for an old football town, but by the time his career is over the Bengals may be the new cool franchise on the block. 

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