A Sit Down with Jim Burrow in Athens, Ohio

When we attended the High School Journalism Workshop at Ohio University last July, I met and interviewed Joe Burrow’s father, Jim. Below is the story.


Tori Maxwell, Griffin Reporter

Joe Burrow has had one of the best comebacks in the NFL. That earned him the honor of NFL Comeback Player of the Year award in 2021. 

Jim, Joe’s dad, first spoke about how his son is an all-American athlete in his eyes. Believe it or not, Jim didn’t think football was actually going to be in his son’s future. Jim thought this because Joe’s favorite sport used to be basketball. He played four years in Athens, then started playing Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). 

Meanwhile, Jim was a defensive coordinator for Ohio University’s football team in 2005, and eventually retired in 2018. He described at first how he wanted to be a teacher which comes back to his coaching life. 

“You got to be a great teacher,” said Jim. “To be a good coach you must be a parent at times.”

In Nebraska and eventually in Athens, Joe played just about every sport but football: soccer, baseball, he ran track, played basketball for the Amatuer Athletic Union team, and even went to an all-star championship game.

His elite football career finally started during his sophomore year of high school, where he eventually started working with a strength coach at Ohio University.

That training earned Joe a spot with the Buckeyes. After high school, Joe went to Ohio State, where he played football for 2 years. Then, he started a new life at LSU, where he started on their team as quarterback, and finished his college degree by 2020. 

Jim is very outspoken especially when it comes to college, let alone his football career. He believes that college players should be rewarded not only for their game play but for their hard work and dedication. 

“I think for our football players, the thing we want is to continue to integrate them into the campus community,” Jim said, “not continue to pull them out.” 

Jim stated that he is proud of his son’s accomplishments, no matter if he is on the field or off the field.

Joe not only represents the Bengals, but also the entire state of Ohio. He likes doing things that are happening in or around Ohio. It’s even rumored that he contacts the bars in Athens and buys everyone drinks to celebrate Ohio wins. 

The overall message or the advice that Jim gave was to be involved in the community, like his son Joe. 

“Be prepared,” Jim said. “Don’t create controversy.” 

Jim said sports develop skills like leadership, teamwork, patience, competitiveness and determination of success. Those are some of the main energies or qualities a person must have in their own life.

Sports are generally played for fitness or winning the game, but they can also be played for the success and passion that you have for the sport, and could possibly be a career — like Joe.