Leadership is not just declared in football or life. It is a position that a person earns by gaining the respect of their peers. Joe Burrow may not be a leader for the Bengals yet, but when you examine how he earned it with the LSU Tigers, it really makes it feel like it is only a matter of time before he has that position locked up.
Brody Miller of The Athletic, recently shared some stories about the 2019 LSU championship team, and one that sticks out is him retelling the tale of Burrow getting in a fight at practice.
Burrow had been absolutely tearing through the LSU defense at practice (like they would tear through almost every other defense they would face), and safety JaCoby Stevens decided he had enough.
“So safety JaCoby Stevens came off the edge on a red zone blitz and smoked Burrow to the ground. One person remembers Burrow’s helmet even coming off, and Burrow instantly popped up and charged at Stevens, grabbing his face mask.”
Miller went on to write that this led to a brawl at practice. What you need to take a look at though is how Burrow quickly went to stand up for himself without just taking it lying down. It is clear that mindset is one that has become a signature of his play style as well as one adopted by the entire team.
This wasn’t the first instance of Burrow getting into it with his teammates on the other side of the ball. Former LSU running backs Clyde Edwards-Helaire recalled linebacker Devin White trash talking Burrow early on at practice in 2018. He also noted that Burrow was quick to talk back to the star linebacker.
It is this mindset that allows Burrow to get the respect of players on both sides of the ball. It should come as no surprise that it is easy for a defender to get behind a guy who is ready to throw down for himself and his team at any moment.
Of course, fans and coaches would probably prefer the franchise quarterback not put himself in harms way. It is just hard to imagine Burrow changing this aspect of himself. He is just one of those guys who isn’t afraid to go out there and show his toughness and confidence in himself.
That kind of personality really is contagious in the best way, and for a team that has been desperate to get over the hump for a very long time, it could be exactly what the doctor ordered.