Joe Burrow came pretty much out of nowhere in 2019 with the kind of season at LSU that made him the first pick in the 2020 draft. It was as unexpected for him as it was for those who witnessed it.
In a recent interview with Chris Simms, Burrow admitted that he had moments of near-resignation during a three-year stretch at Ohio State of not playing.
“I was putting in the same work that I always put in and wasn’t playing,” Burrow said. “Of course there was self-doubt in that moment. I mean, when you don’t pay for three years, and you’re putting in the work and you feel like you’re practicing really well and you feel like you can go out there and make plays and do what you’ve always done but you’re not getting the opportunity to show what you can do, it’s frustrating. And there were times when I started updating that resume, thinking about being an investment banker, or something like that.”
Obviously, he didn’t have to use his non-football resume. But it’s a reminder of the fine line that often exists, not just between being in the NFL and not being in the NFL, but between being one of the best players in the NFL and not playing football at all.
Players, no matter their skills, need opportunities. Burrow didn’t get one at Ohio State. He got his shot at LSU, and he made the most of it.
Without that opportunity to reach a player’s potential, however, the potential can never be reached. It underscores the power that football coaches have over a player’s career, and it shows that even great college coaches can miss future NFL stars who are lurking right under their noses.
For three years.