Joe Burrow hasn't shied away from the spotlight or the podium since becoming the No. 1 overall pick of the 2020 draft, and his ability to command a room has earned him a rare honor.
The rookie quarterback was named one of six captains for the Cincinnati Bengals on Wednesday.
"Was one of my goals coming in," Burrow said, per The Athletic. I didn't really expect to be a captain, but really happy to represent our team and our offense
The six-man group is made up of five captains with at least four years of NFL experience, with the majority of the group having been in the league for most of the last decade.
Then, there's Burrow, the fresh-faced future of the franchise who set an FBS record for passing touchdowns in 2019 with 60 en route to a perfect 15-0 season and a national championship for LSU. When Burrow won the Heisman Trophy, he diverted attention away from himself and toward those in need from his home region of economically depressed southeast Ohio, telling the youth from the area that they too can end up like Burrow.
It wasn't contrived, but heartfelt, and far from the last time Burrow would speak emphatically from a public platform on a topic about which he cared deeply.
That type of genuine passion didn't take long to show itself in Cincinnati's locker room. Bengals senior writer Geoff Hobson recounted in a story published Tuesday how veteran Bengals center Trey Hopkins chose Burrow, the rookie, to read the last two paragraphs of an important mission statement developed by the team to address social injustices in America.
"Him telling us that story and him being as vocal and as active as he is, it definitely speaks volumes to all of us," tight end C.J. Uzomah said of Burrow, per Hobson.
Burrow has used his social media platform to again voice his support for social justice efforts during his first few months as a Bengal, tweeting honestly when the nation found itself in turmoil over the summer. Those messages, Hobson wrote, caught the eye of his elder teammates before he even arrived in Cincinnati.
The Bengals are putting their hopes and prayers on the shoulders of Burrow, but as his selection as captain proves, his teammates already believe he can handle it. Now it's up to the quarterback to prove it on the field while wearing the C patch on his crisp orange and black No. 9 jersey.