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Bengaldom Expands With Selection Of Burrow

Joe Burrow can run for office, never mind the Heisman.
Joe Burrow can run for office, never mind the Heisman.

For the record, Adam Luehrman, one of Joe Burrow's very favorite receivers growing up in Athens, Ohio, long before the Heisman and Boosie and back when he wore No. 10, often wears a Bengals hat and Ohio University shirt.

But when he ducked into a convenient store Friday, he noticed he had some company.

"There are a lot more Bengals fans here now," Luehrman confirmed the day after the Joe Jubilee. "There were a couple of people wearing Bengals stuff. It's good to see.

"It's all anybody's taking about. Something like that has never happened around here."

Adam and his twin brother Ryan have grown up wearing Bengals stuff. Before they went on to become pro prospects themselves at OU, they caught balls from Burrow on Friday nights and gave their hearts to the Bengals on Sunday afternoons. Both of them have been known to wear No. 9 jerseys back when Palmer (Carson) was on the back.

But now? Well, Adam says, it'd be a bit weird to wear your buddy's jersey.

"No. No," Adam finally decided. "I think I'd have to get a throwback jersey. An Esiason jersey."

But the Burrow Bengals jerseys are coming to Athens soon. Burrow knows it, too, because he heard the horns honking driving by the house Thursday night as the Joe Fans saluted the Bengals' overall No. 1 pick.

"I had on my headphones doing the interviews, but I could hear it in the background," said Burrow on Friday, still doing interviews. "It meant a lot."

The Plains, long divided among Bengals, Browns and Steelers fans, is no longer a swing county. In the time it took NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to utter the pick, the region shifted to orange and black.

"I imagine so," said Burrow, which is funny because when it comes to the NFL he has always "been a bandwagoner.

"I started out liking the Vikings when we lived in North Dakota. When we moved here, I couldn't decide on a team, so I picked the Saints because I liked Drew Brees. So I liked the Saints for a while. Then I was like a Browns fan for a year and then I wasn't a fan of anybody."

Bengals president Mike Brown likes Brees, too. In fact, he liked him so much that if he had chosen not to listen to his draft room in 2001 he would have taken Brees with the fourth pick. Nineteen years later Brown Fed Exed letters to Burrow and his parents the day before the draft welcoming them to what he hopes is a Brees-like era in their part of Ohio.

"He was just saying he was excited about the future and looking forward to building championship teams with me," said Burrow, recounting the letter. "I'm excited he's trusted me with the No. 1 pick and putting me in this position to succeed and continue to do it for a long time."

They met at the start of Burrow's interview with the Bengals at the NFL scouting combine in late February and Burrow enjoyed the break-the-ice banter. They compared the times it took them to drive the 150 miles between Cincinnati and Athens and Brown told him to drive carefully when he thought Burrow's time was a bit rapid.

"We talked a lot about Ohio," Burrow said. "He seems like a great man. I'm looking forward to working for him."

Class also wears No. 14. Andy Dalton, the winningest quarterback in Bengals history who Burrow looks to have supplanted, reached out Thursday night to welcome him.

"I met him before the quarantine a few months ago," Burrow said. "Good dude."

Burrow doesn't know much more about the Bengals. What he knows about comes from his friends. Not just the twins, but Bengals defensive end Sam Hubbard, Burrow's buddy from Ohio State.

"I know they've been to two Super Bowls and haven't won it yet and they haven't won a play-off game in a long time," Burrow said. "And they've had some very successful seasons where they had an opportunity to win play-off games. And the fan base is very passionate and hungry for a team that can win a championship and hopefully we can bring that to it."

The fan base should know that Burrow has been working. He wasn't working Friday because he structured this week so he would be able to decompress. Working nowadays means going into the basement and lifting Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and while he began throwing four times a week, he's pulled it back to three or two times a week depending on how his arm feels.

"We talked about it last week. It just feels like high school again for me," Burrow said. "You have to ask your parents if you can go anywhere. You're hanging out just with your high school buddies. Keeping your circle small. It's been interesting."

Tell Adam Luehrman about it. He and Ryan live in an off-campus apartment and they still hear from their parents asking, "You're not going outside Athens County, right?"

"No, we're just going to throw with Joe," is the answer and hasn't that always been the answer since third grade?

Athens High School coach Nathan White can give you all kinds of stories about those pleasant summer evenings when they were in high school and he knew the text would be coming from the nearby Burrow home. "Coach, can you open up the stadium to throw?" and with the stadium almost as close White would let in Burrow and the twins.

Now with their high-profile QB in tow, they've opted for an out of the way place.

"They wear gloves and we're staying apart," Burrow said. "We've got hand sanitizer out there."

Burrow is much more at ease talking about work. He laughed when asked if after spending so much time with Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan and quarterbacks coach Dan Pitcher Zooming Xs and Os for a month they've got the first week of training camp installed.

"It's going to be nice getting back to football instead of interviews and talking about what's going to happen," Burrow said. "I'm just excited about getting to the season."

Adam Luehrman is indeed eyeing one of buddies' jerseys and it's not the No. 9. It's the white T-Shirt he wore during the draft rocking the Athens County area code of 740 sitting inside the borders of a box shaped like Ohio. There's only one. But he hopes not for long.

"Everybody loved his 740 shirt," Adam Luehrman said. "Hopefully they'll start selling it."

Luehrman agreed. Right now his buddy could be elected governor of that box.

"He could be mayor of Athens, too," Adam Luehrman said.

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