COLUMBUS, Ohio — Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals will be playing for an AFC Championship this weekend in just his second season.
While a lot of people may be surprised by that, Jim Burrow said the one person who isn’t, is his son.
"That was the expectation of Joe when he got drafted by the Bengals. It's not happening too fast,” he said.
During a conversation with 10TV, Jim said this has been his son’s goal to win a championship since he started playing football.
“The LSU national championship was a big goal for him, and this is the next step,” Jim said.
Long before Joe hit the national stage, his father was a star player for Nebraska and was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1976.
He would move on to the Canadian Football League where he won a Grey Cup, the CFL’s championship game trophy.
After that he moved on to coaching, spending time at Washington State, Iowa State and most recently Ohio University.
Even with that background, Jim says he and his wife, Robin, still get anxious and nervous on game days. Including last week when Joe was sacked nine times in the AFC Divisional Game against the Tennessee Titans.
"As a coach, I know it's a part of the game. As a parent, his mom and I, we cringe a little especially since last year, that was his first major injury. But he seems to be resilient and popping up and getting ready for the next play. He's got the ability to put that behind him."
During his first season, Joe tore his ACL and MCL in Week 11 and was forced to miss the rest of his rookie season. Going into his second season, Jim says his son still had big expectations.
"He said during camp after they added some pieces on both sides of the ball, ‘we're going to be really good and we'll have a chance to make the playoff and stay healthy as a team’ and that's what happened,” he said. “He said the same at LSU once during fall camp and he ended up with a national championship."
Jim adds that it’s not just Joe with that mentality. He said the team shares in the mindset and they expect to be where they are, and they’re excited for it.
Of course, with Joe being raised in southeast Ohio and having a standout career at Athens High School, there’s a lot of excitement and attention being sent his way.
“It's overwhelming at times to both of us,” Jim said. “Every time we see thousands of Joe Burrow jerseys at Paul Brown Stadium and there's still a lot of them out there at the away games. It's still hard for us to really put our heads around it and say this is happening to our son but just really, really proud of Joe."
When asked how much he gets to talk to or see Joe during the season, Jim says they maybe have one call or a text here or there because he’s so focused.
"Our time together is really on a vacation maybe in the summer or a weekend when he comes home after the season. During the season, he really doesn't want a lot to do with mom and dad so that's just Joe and his preparation."
Along with the sign coming into The Plains that reads “Home of Joe Burrow” and the stadium at the high school bearing his son’s name, Jim said there’s a lot of fans in their area.
"There's a lot of Browns fans and Steelers fans. Since they're not in the playoffs, they're all Bengals fans now around here,” he said.
With his son just one win away from a Super Bowl, which would be the Bengals' first in 33 years, Jim said it’s a great story, but it’s taken a lot of work on Joe’s part.
“He would be the first to tell you all the people around him - his support staff, family, other coaches, teammates - that's all added up to where he is today,” Jim said. “He appreciates everybody's support in Athens, The Plains, southeast Ohio and the whole state of Ohio."
One of those local supporters is Zonez Print Shop which has created a shirt with proceeds going to Burrow's favorite charity, the Athens County Food Bank. If you want to view the shirt, click here.