Rookie Joe Burrow named Bengals captain before his first NFL snap

Jason Owens
·3 min read

Joe Burrow hasn’t yet played an NFL down, and he’s already a team captain.

The Cincinnati Bengals announced seven team captains on Wednesday as voted on by players. The No. 1 pick out of LSU joins veterans Vonn Bell, Giovani Bernard, Josh Bynes, A.J. Green, Kevin Huber and Shawn Williams, all of whom have at least four years of NFL experience.

Joe Burrow a starter and captain

Burrow, 23, was an exceptional leader at LSU as he won the Heisman Trophy and led the Tigers to the 2019 national championship with a historic offense. It didn’t take long for him to gain the respect of his NFL teammates and be named the Bengals starting quarterback.

“He has earned the starting spot for us,” head coach Zac Taylor said of Burrow on Monday. “I know that he was really the starter the day he walked in the door, but he’s done everything to verify that for us and to earn it.”

The starting job was a given for Joe Burrow. Being voted a team captain was not. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster, File)
The starting job was a given for Joe Burrow. Being voted a team captain was not. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster, File)

The starting job was expected. But even for a rookie of Burrow’s stature, being named captain is an uncommon honor. Last year’s No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray needed a year under his belt before his Arizona Cardinals teammates voted him captain this week.

“Was one of my goals coming in,” Burrow told reporters after being voted captain. “I didn’t really expect to be a captain, but really happy to represent our team and our offense.”

Burrow’s leadership on social justice front

While Burrow has impressed on the field, he’s also been a leader in the locker room and taken an active role as a proponent of social justice. He played a central role in the team’s public stance on calling for change amid the nation’s ongoing race reckoning in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police.

He has also been an advocate for change and social justice on his personal platforms.

While his leadership on the social front has certainly earned Burrow the respect of his teammates, he’s also impressed in the huddle. Fourth-year running back Joe Mixon spoke to his on-field command.

“To be honest, I think what popped off the most about Joe Burrow is his leadership and how he takes the huddle,” Mixon said, per ESPN. "He's a very confident guy. He goes about things so professionally. I think he does a great job leading.”

Fans will get their first look at Burrow under center when the Bengals host the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.

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