Joe Burrow spent the spring and summer months visiting fields at Nelsonville-York High School and Athens High School, getting throwing sessions in whenever possible.
On Friday, Burrow was finally able to workout at his new home as a professional athlete.
Burrow signed his rookie contract with the Cincinnati Bengals, allowing the Heisman Trophy winner to put the offseason in his rearview mirror.
The Bengals tweeted a video of Burrow taking the field at Paul Brown Stadium, his journey as the franchise quarterback underway.
“Everyone’s super anxious to put the pads on and start getting some live reps,” Burrow said in a zoom meeting with reporters after signing his contract. “We had our first walk through today and everyone was fired up for that. I think I was throwing it a little harder than I should have been in a walk through, but it felt good to be out there.”
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Tuesday that Burrow and the Bengals agreed to the terms of a four-year contract for $36.1 million.
Also according to ESPN, Burrow will receive a $23.9 million signing bonus within 15 days of signing the contract.
“I’m going to have to go out and earn that paycheck every single day,” Burrow said. “That’s the real part that I’m looking forward to.”
Burrow, who moved to Cincinnati earlier in July, is more than ready to continue to work. It’s that work ethic that helped Burrow become a record-setting quarterback at Athens High School, then eventually a national champion at LSU.
“I try not to pay attention to all that stuff,” Burrow said, in response to Bengals’ fans looking at him as a savior for the franchise. “My job is to be here to do the best that I can today and get better every single day.”
The COVID-19 pandemic led to a different offseason in the NFL. Burrow was the No. 1 overall draft pick back in April, but instead of being in Las Vegas as originally planed, Burrow watched the draft from home with his parents.
Robin and Jimmy Burrow were shown on national TV as the Bengals selected Burrow with their No. 1 overall pick. The spotlight dimmed over the few months that followed, but Burrow continued to work from his parents home in The Plains and around Athens County.
“I had some good guys to throw to in Athens,” Burrow said, as he usually worked with Ryan and Adam Luehrman, his teammates from Athens and current Ohio University tight ends. “I had a great offseason, it was very, very effective for me. I moved to Cincinnati a couple weeks ago and got great work here as well. I had a great offseason.
Zoom meetings replaced a regular rookie mini camp. There have been challenges to learning a new offense, but Burrow said football is football.
“It’s all the same,” he said. “Basically, everybody steals plays from other teams. There’s a couple new plays here and there. Every coach has their own way of verbalizing things and reading certain concepts so it’s just adapting to the new language and the few new concepts that you see.”
Burrow said he was able to talk with Peyton Manning for an hour recently. Manning was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1998 draft and went on to win two Super Bowls in his career.
Burrow said Manning gave him advice on what to expect and how to succeed on and off the field.
“It was a great conversation that I was very glad to have,” Burrow said.
Burrow was also asked about Bengals’ star receiver AJ Green, who signed a one-year franchise tag. The 10-year veteran played a large role in the Bengals’ run of five-straight playoff appearances from 2011 through 2015, but is coming off a pair of injury-plagued seasons.
“He’s one of the best receivers in the league,” Burrow said. “I couldn’t be more excited to work with him. I’m excited to get him out here and build our relationship.”
The Bengals have signed their entire rookie class with Burrow being the final addition. The team will continue training camp in hopes of a 2020 season.
The NFL won’t hold preseason games this season, meaning Burrow will have to do his learning in practices.
The Bengals season opener is scheduled for Sept. 13, at home against the Los Angeles Chargers.
“I’m going to show up and come to work and do exactly what everyone tells me,” Burrow said about the lack of preseason games. “I’m on a need-to-know basis right now. I’m coming to work every day and doing what I’m told.”
Burrow will show up to work as the Bengals’ starting quarterback. The team traded long-time starter Andy Dalton to Dallas in the offseason, leaving no doubt that it was Burrow’s team.
Burrow said that while he will have to continue to work, it helps to have the trust of the Bengals’ coaching staff.
“I’ve come a long way in the last three to four years in that aspect,” he said. “It feels great coming in and they have my back. If I make a mistake in practice, I’m not going to get benched. They’re going to come back, talk to me about it, what did you see? Here’s how you can be better.”
Burrow has the confidence of the Bengals’ organization, as the next step in his football journey continues.
Burrow led Athens to an appearance in the state championship game in 2014, before going to play at Ohio State. He eventually transferred from Columbus to Baton Rouge, rising to national fame with 2019’s historic season.
Burrow said there has been no time to think about what he’s accomplished, just onto the next challenge.
“No time to reflect, full steam ahead,” Burrow said. “Going into my rookie year I expect to play well and I expect to win a lot of games. If I look back now I’m doing myself a disservice.”