Joe Burrow is coming off arguably the greatest season by a quarterback in college football history. But while his place in college football lore is secure, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner isn't ready to entertain any questions comparing himself to the most successful quarterback in pro football history.
Burrow, during a recent appearance on NFL Network, was told that some in the media have been comparing him to Tom Brady, a six-time Super Bowl champion, four-time Super Bowl MVP and three-time league MVP.
"Please don't compare me to the best player of all time," Burrow said, via Shea Dixon of 247Sports. "Let me do my own thing. Don't do that to me. Please."
The network analyst told Burrow that being compared to Brady is extremely high praise.
"It is," Burrow replied. "But it's Tom Brady."
While some have been comparing Burrow's accuracy and smooth throwing motion to Brady, the two quarterbacks have other similarities.
Both players started their college careers at Big Ten schools; Brady at Michigan and Burrow at Ohio State. Both quarterbacks had to watch and wait their turn before earning a starting job at the college ranks. Brady had backed up Brian Griese the year Michigan captured a share of the 1997 national championship, didn't get his opportunity to start until his junior season, and despite leading the Wolverines to a Citrus Bowl victory, Brady entered his senior season in an intense position battle with Drew Henson, a multi-sport athlete who would later be drafted by both the Houston Texans and New York Yankees. Brady ultimately held off Henson, however, leading the Wolverines to fifth place national finish following a victory over Alabama in the Orange Bowl.
Burrow, who grew up less than an hour from Ohio Stadium, was part of a loaded quarterback room at Ohio State that included J.T. Barrett, Cardale Jones, and Dwayne Haskins. After throwing just 29 passes in three seasons with the Buckeyes, Burrow transferred to LSU, where he immediately realized his potential while leading the Tigers to a 25-3 record during his two years under center. Last fall, Burrow led LSU to a 15-0 record that included his five-touchdown performance in the Tigers' victory over Clemson in January's national championship game.
Unlike Brady, who remained mostly under the radar leading up to the 2000 draft, Burrow is expected to be the first overall pick in the 2020 draft. But despite his high draft stock, Burrow has remained level headed while maintaining his desire to prove people wrong after languishing on the bench for over three years during his college career.
"I wasn't ready to play at all (as a freshman), and everyone knew it," Burrow said during the 2019 season, via Yahoo Sports. "I started from the bottom, and working and working and working. That's a theme with all the great quarterbacks, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. They didn't have it easy at any point."
And while he didn't compare Burrow to Brady, Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, who previously coached Peyton Manning in Denver and Matthew Stafford in Detroit, believes that Burrow has a similar mental makeup. Callahan was among the members of the Bengals' brass that met with Burrow during last week's NFL combine. Cincinnati is expected to make Burrow the first overall pick in this year's draft.
"They don't put themselves in that position without being wired the right way," Callahan said of Burrow, Manning and Stafford, via the Bengals' official website. "Their preparation habits. Peyton was notoriously one of the best ever at preparation and Stafford quietly is right there with him.
"Put that talent on top of what they do with the mental part and you get an overall No. 1 pick. That's everything I've heard (about Burrow). If that's the way it goes and I get to be with a third overall No. 1 quarterback, that's great. That usually means good things."