Opinion: Joe Burrow can be Cincinnati’s LeBron James
Imagine that it’s February 2024. Joe Burrow raises the Lombardi trophy over his head, “CINCINNATI! THIS IS FOR YOU!” The Cincinnati Bengals have finally won their first Super Bowl.
Well, it’s finally official. The Cincinnati Bengals have selected LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Athens kid turned Heisman could have an impact on Cincinnati sports that no athlete ever has.
As a fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers myself, LeBron James is my favorite athlete of all time. What he did for the Cavaliers’ franchise cannot be understated. He is a hero for the city of Cleveland. Knowing the impact he had on his city, I understand just how big of a claim it is to say that Joe Burrow could have the same effect on Cincinnati. That’s a claim I’m willing to make.
Now, I’m not saying that Burrow is going to be the greatest football player of all time. What I am saying is that he can mean as much to the city of Cincinnati as LeBron does to the city of Cleveland.
So just what does LeBron mean to Cleveland? He was just a kid from Akron, a city only 40 miles away from Cleveland. Similarly, Burrow has called himself “just a kid from Athens”, a city just over two and a half hours away from his new team in Cincinnati.
LeBron became the face of the NBA over the past 17 years. He is someone who the city of Cleveland can forever take pride in.
There were times where James essentially single-handedly carried the Cavs through entire playoffs, his 2007 campaign is a primary example of that. He led his hometown team to four straight finals appearances during his second tenure with the team. He turned a franchise without much history of success into a juggernaut.
Most importantly, he ended a 52-year drought without a championship for his hometown team. He ended what many had called the “Cleveland Curse.” He completely changed sports for an entire city.
While not as long as Cleveland’s, Cincinnati has a curse of its own. The city of Cincinnati has not had a professional sports championship since the Reds won the World Series in 1990. The Bengals themselves have never won a Super Bowl. They haven’t even won a playoff game in 29 years, let alone a championship. Burrow wasn’t even born the last time the franchise won a playoff game.
I am confident that Burrow can change the trajectory of this franchise and bring the city not only a long-awaited playoff win but their first-ever Super Bowl victory.
At this point, what reason is there not to believe in Burrow? He has done nothing but win for the teams that have given him a starting opportunity. Take it from him, he hasn’t had a losing season in sports since he was 5.
Burrow led Athens High School (a school without much history of winning) to three straight playoffs and their first seven playoff victories including a state championship appearance. After transferring from Ohio State to LSU, he won 25 of his 28 games in Louisiana, including a 15-0 National Championship season to close out his college career. That National Championship was their first in thirteen years.
Regardless of where he goes, the kid wins football games and he wins a lot of them. Anyone betting that he can’t do the same for Cincinnati should do so at their own risk.
If Joe Burrow can come to Cincinnati and do what no quarterback has done for the city in 30 years and win a playoff game, he will be a hero in the Queen City. If he goes even further than that and brings the city a championship, he can be The King.