On Sunday, 25-year-old Joe Burrow will step onto the biggest stage in the sporting world and try to win the first Super Bowl in the history of the Cincinnati Bengals.
For some quarterbacks, that would seem a monumental task, but Burrow has made winning a bit of a habit. In 2019, he led LSU to a National Championship and could become just the third passer in history to win both major titles — joining Joe Namath and Joe Montana. He’d be the first to do it with a Heisman Trophy also in his trophy case.
Burrow comes by his winning ways honestly. After claiming the national title two years ago, he cited his father Jim as an inspiration because of his own championship ring, one hard earned with the Montreal Alouettes in the notorious “Ice Bowl” 1977 Grey Cup.
“I guess that was the first championship in the Burrow family,” Jim Burrow told Mark Lidbetter of The Suburban this week ahead of his son’s Super Bowl appearance.
“I had been hurt most of the year, had an operation but got activated for the Grey Cup and got a chance to play in that game. We played in a couple of others (Grey Cups), we should have won those, those are the ones you think about, but the 1977 one was a good one for us.”
The elder Burrow spent five seasons as a defensive back in the CFL after graduating from Nebraska, playing with Montreal (1977-80), Calgary (1980) and Ottawa (1981). He was a two-time East All-Star, finishing with 15 career interceptions.
While with the Als, Burrow lost Grey Cups in 1978 and 1979, putting his career record at 1-2 in the big game. Nevertheless, he looks back on his time in the CFL fondly, especially recently as ex-teammates have begun reaching out to show their support for his son.
“It was really fun, we were a close team for four-five years,” Burrow said. “Today I heard from Gabriel Gregoire, Randy Rhino, Wally Buono texted me the other day and Peter Dalla Riva texts me after games. I missed out on the last reunion for our Grey Cup team because I was coaching but now that I’m retired I plan to get back to Montreal and see the Alouettes play.”
Since the end of his playing days, Burrow has seen success in the coaching realm, most notably serving as defensive coordinator at the University of Ohio from 2005 to 2018 — where he was forced to scheme against a young Nathan Rourke every day in practice.
He retired in 2018 in order to watch his son play more regularly and has gotten his full money’s worth for the decision. He’ll be there once again on Super Bowl Sunday with his wife Robin, experiencing the types of emotional responses to sport only parents can relate to.
“We get nervous, anxious, we like to watch him warm-up,” Burrow said. “We feel better that he’s down there and ready to go and throwing the ball good. Then the game starts and we’re back to being nervous.”