I’ve gone on record stating that Joe Burrow might be one of the best leaders in the NFL. However, after seeing the stunt he is pulling ahead of his team’s final game of the season with the AFC’s top seed on the line, I have to alter my statement.
After seeing this, I am confident that Burrow is a top-5 leader in the NFL now.
“Hey, stupid! He’s NOT playing in the game. Can’t you read? This makes him a bad leader!” shouts the football fan with a large amount of fragile masculinity.
I can read just fine, thank you. And sure, the more elder football fans may view Burrow’s decision with a little more distaste given that Tom Brady hasn’t sat out the final game of the regular season for rest once in his career. And yes, while that is admirable by Brady, it’s also not the standard of greatness we should hold our athletes to.
Burrow suffered a semi-serious leg injury in the closing moments of his team’s Week 17 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. Burrow’s backup, Brandon Allen, even had to come in and run a few plays before Evan McPherson kicked the game-winning field goal. I’d consider that an injury worth keeping an eye on, especially when the guy who got injured is in the MVP conversation.
Burrow has gone on to say that his knee is “nothing serious”, but I’d rather have absolutely certainty that my best player is going to be 100 percent for my team’s first postseason appearance since 2015 than have him go out there and face Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney, while two of his five starting offensive linemen are on COVID reserve might I add. There will undoubtedly be situations this Sunday where Burrow will face tremendous pressure and get hit. The Bengals, and their fans, shouldn’t want their franchise QB’s compromised knee, no matter the severity, anywhere near potential tacklers and potentially ruining his chances of playing in the postseason or even worse, missing games next season in order to recover.
Also this game means nothing if either the Chiefs beat the Broncos (K.C. has beaten Denver in 12 straight meetings by the way) or the Tennessee Titans beat the Houston Texans. That’s such a slim chance to gain a bye week; it’s not worth the risk.
Keep in mind, too, that the Bengals play the Browns this weekend. You know, the same Browns who’ve lost four-of-their-last five and five-of-their-last seven. To be fair, they did beat the Lions and a “Lamar-less” Ravens team during that stretch…by a combined FIVE POINTS. Oh, and to further add to the dismay, Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield announced that he wasn’t going to play this weekend either, a proactive move to heal his shoulder up ASAP so he can start prepping properly for next season. You can clown Mayfield for how he’s performed this season all you want, but I’d still rather have Mayfield under center than Case Keenum.
Rather than Burrow being selfish while dealing with a minor injury, his decision to sit out this final week should be viewed more as him trusting Allen and the rest of his team that they can beat a Browns team sans Mayfield. I’d hope every quarterback had that kind of faith in his team. Sure, in the lone game Keenum started this year, he beat the Broncos, but he wasn’t some elite arm that could win games for Cleveland. Furthermore, Burrow’s decision to sit out this week is an indication that he’s aware of the road that lies ahead.
Despite this being his first trip to the postseason, Burrow knows that the playoffs are all that matters, and he’d rather take care of himself and give his all in a postseason game than give a partial performance in a game that will most likely mean nothing at all. The Bengals just clinched their first division title in over half a decade. Enjoy the division title. Don’t get greedy and ask for a first-round bye now, all while risking the health of your star quarterback — AKA the guy who missed a lot of the 2020 season with a knee injury and has been dealing with an injury on his pinky finger since the start of December.
To top it all off, I’m sure Burrow and the Bengals organization are aware that the Chiefs play on Saturday. If the Chiefs happen to lose, Burrow will still have almost 18 hours to make a decision on whether or not he feels he can play. If the Chiefs win, however, this whole argument becomes moot and Burrow can rest all he wants to get ready for the playoffs. Asking Burrow to risk his health in a game that likely won’t have any playoff implications ahead of the biggest game of his career is selfish and stupid.