Joey Franchise has officially won NFL's Comeback Player of the Year for the 2021-22 season. He has brought his Cincinnati Bengals to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1988, and has done it at only 25 years old.
Before Burrow was lighting up the National Football League, he was a 4-star recruit from Ohio going to the Ohio State University. He would be a backup to future NFL talent like J.T. Barrett and Dwayne Haskins which would lead to his transfer to LSU. An injury had plagued him in much of the 2017 season, and he was hopeful a fresh start in the Bayou would resurge his potential as a QB.
Burrow would end up being pretty decent at LSU.
He would have an underwhelming first season at LSU, throwing the ball 379 times for 2,894 yards, 16 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. This would lead to Burrow's Senior (redshirt) season, and his last chance to cement himself as a future-NFL Quarterback.
In his final season at LSU, surrounded by incredible offensive talents such as Ja'Marr Chase, Justin
Jefferson and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Burrow would have quite possibly the best college-QB season EVER. On his way to winning the Heisman award, he would throw the ball 527 times with a completion percentage of over 76%. He would also throw for 5,671 yards (4th in FBS history) and 60 touchdowns (FBS record). He would not only rise to superstardom on the field, but thanks to his apparent cockiness and swagger off the field, would become a sensation on social media as well as the world prepared for him to be the #1 overall draft pick.
Once he was given this distinction, he would be coming back home to Ohio as the future of the Cincinnati Bengals organization. The team that only a year ago had only won 2 games the year prior, now had hope of a bright future. His rookie season was far from perfect, but a great introduction to the league for Burrow throwing 13 touchdowns while recording a 2-6-1 record before unfortunately tearing his ACL and ending his season prematurely. The Bengals would go on to win 2 more games and finish the year 4-11-1.
Burrow was severely disappointed with his injury, especially since his play had only gotten better as the season progressed, finding his stride in the middle of the season. His team had only won 6 games in the past two years and Burrow vowed to change things for the better starting right then.
The Bengals would start hot in his sophomore season at 5-2. Burrow and former and new teammate, wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase were killing it, combining for 754 yards and 6 touchdowns. The season would stay on this pace and the Bengals would finish the season at 10-7, winning the AFC North in the process.
The story of Burrow, Chase and the Bengals was assumed to end quickly in the playoffs, facing off against a red hot Raiders team in the Wild Card round. However, thanks to Burrow's 244 and 2, they would brush off their Vegas counterpart and face off with the first-seeded Tennesee Titans next. This time it was their defense carrying weight, and would propel the team to the AFC Championship game against the face of the league, Patrick Mahomes and his Kansas City Chiefs.
At this point, Cinderella was minutes away from the tick of midnight. The Bengals were huge underdogs and even though the story was remarkable, they were "no match" for the Chiefs who were making their 4th straight AFC Championship appearance. The game would start out as such, with the Chiefs snagging a 21-3 lead by mid-2nd quarter.
Then the impossible happened. Not only did the Bengals defense thwart Mahomes to only 3 points after this gargantuan lead was drawn, but Burrow started slinging it. A pair of passing touchdowns would give the Bengals a late-4th quarter lead and eventually put them in position to steal the game in overtim.
And just like that, this 25-year old phenom had led his "puny" franchise to AFC Champions and to it's first Super Bowl appearance in 30 years.
The Bengals offense is the catalyst of this team, with stars like Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Joe Mixon and C.J. Uzomah being led by their captain-QB. Their defense has had particularly strong moments in the playoffs specifically, but it's no secret the key to this team's success is to score plenty of touchdowns. They will need to do this in bunches if Burrow plans to keep his story rolling, and if he does so will beocme the first QB ever to win the FBS National Championship, the Heisman trophy and be a Super Bowl Champion, and he' have done it all in only three seaons.
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