Joe Burrow going No. 1 overall to the Cincinnati Bengals feels like a done deal at this point. It’d turn the NFL upside down if a player like Justin Herbert was selected with the draft’s top pick.
Knowing he’ll be No. 1 overall, Burrow has the opportunity to do what Eli Manning (or what Archie Manning did for him Eli) and refuse to play for the team that drafted him. The Bengals would be to Burrow what the Chargers were to Manning 16 years ago. Such a move is an understandably rare act that actually happens for a myriad of reasons, none of which are conventional.
That said, it was Steve Bartkowski, the No. 1 pick in the 1975 NFL Draft that gave this advice to Burrow. He talked about his views with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Drew Davison.
“They’re Ohio guys. I might’ve offended them by telling them that, if it’s the Bengals, I think I’d pull an Eli Manning on that one. I said, you’ve got a chance to do that. That’s happened. [John] Elway kind of set the tone, then the Mannings delved into it after Eli was picked by San Diego.”
Bartkowski may not be a fan-favorite in Cincinnati, but looking at it from his perspective, he just wants what’s best for Burrow.
Competing instantly may not be possible for Cincinnati, and Bartkowski virtually tells Burrow to force a team not in a rebuilding stage to trade for him. He wants Burrow in an environment that will instantly foster success, something not often found within the top few spots of the draft.
The Bengals can get there though. They’ve been to Super Bowls. They’ve seen success in the last decade. Sadly, they haven’t that next-level quarterback like Burrow could be to drive their postseason success.
Growing up just a few hours from Cincinnati is another reason why Burrow is unlikely to voice any complaints, although his family and camp has repeatedly denied being unhappy if selected to the Bengals. And despite what most of the media will continue to say for the next two months, don’t expect the Burrow’s stance to change for the worse.