It took me days before the absurdity of what I had witnessed finally set in. And even still his performance seems impossible.
I was fortunate enough to attend the Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl to close out 2019, which put two potent offenses head-to-head in the form of the LSU Tigers and Oklahoma Sooners. Most expected undefeated No. 1 LSU, lead by Heisman-winning quarterback Joe Burrow, to win. But no one could have predicted Burrow’s showing, which would shatter records in the most stunning way possible.
To say the quarterback, who was buried in the depth chart at Ohio State two years ago, directs his offense like a well-oiled machine would be an understatement. Watching Burrow pick apart Oklahoma’s defense was more akin to watching a varsity team play a bunch of middle schoolers rather than a CFP semifinal. But that was the beauty of it. He made it look so damn easy.
Touchdown. Punt. Touchdown. Touchdown. Touchdown. Touchdown. Touchdown. Touchdown.
Oh, did I mention that all seven of these touchdowns were thrown by Burrow in the first half alone? The air in the stadium was unlike anything I had ever witnessed. Every time the man stepped on the field, you just knew the Tigers were going to score.
Before the game, LSU reporter Emily Dixon showed Burrow a childhood picture of himself and asked if he thought the child looked like a Heisman Trophy winner.
“Damn right it does,” Burrow immediately replied. “He looks like a national champion.”
You can say whatever you want if you back it up, and that’s exactly what he did for the entire season.
There have been other nationally iconic quarterbacks, like Tim Tebow and Cam Newton, but no one else has touched the level of sheer dominance that Burrow exemplified. I am not here to argue that Joe Burrow had the best season ever in the Heisman-era of college football — because if his 2019 resume alone doesn’t tell you that, I don’t know what will. But I do think one aspect of his game was a bit underappreciated, and it isn’t something you would find on the stat sheet.
Burrow’s character had me in awe anytime I watched an interview or press conference. He exemplifies the perfect blend of humility and confidence, politeness and wittiness. The man carries himself in a tantalizing fashion that constantly leaves me wondering how someone so relaxed and laid-back off the field was effortlessly flawless every time he was under center. It’s like he was programmed to throw dimes.
His Instagram captions are just as goofy as any other college kid’s — apart from the whole holding the Heisman and CFP trophies thing — and he is constantly seen on the sidelines smiling and cracking jokes.
College football needed someone like Burrow. So many of these players — especially at powerhouse schools — just get treated like machines by fans, machines whose only job is to go out and win football games. Burrow did that and much more, all while taking down perennial dynasties in Alabama and Clemson en route to as close to a perfect season you could have as a collegiate quarterback.
Burrow will likely be the No. 1 overall draft pick in April, but at the end of the day, he was just another college student. The 23-year-old obtained his master’s degree six days after winning the Heisman trophy, and celebrated the national championship by smoking cigars and going out to bars. Find me someone who does “student-athlete” better than he does. Just a kid in college who is a pretty good at throwing a football.
Shailin Singh covers football. Contact him at