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Here's The Deal: Some Things Change And Some Things Don't As Burrows Reflect

QB Joe Burrow walks during practice at the Kettering Health Practice Fields on Thursday, September 7, 2023.
QB Joe Burrow walks during practice at the Kettering Health Practice Fields on Thursday, September 7, 2023.

Jimmy Burrow got the news on his phone just like everyone else.

"The deal is done," Joe Burrow texted his folks.

So Robin and Jimmy Burrow did what parents do and texted, "Call us."

"We had a good conversation," Jimmy Burrow says. "He was happy it was done and certainly pleased with the outcome of the deal."

But no mention from the kid who slept in the Star Wars bedroom and grew up to conquer the universe that it's the richest NFL deal of all time.

"That's not Joe," Jimmy Burrow says.

What a week for the Burrows, the first family of Ohio, and Gov. and Mrs. DeWine probably agree.

On Friday, there was the news avalanche crashing over the record five-year, $275 million extension that had TV crews perched on every nook and cranny of Paycor Stadium.

On Saturday, Jimmy and Robin plan to visit some of the 200 Cincinnati restaurants that have pledged to give nine percent of their proceeds on 9/9 in the "Dine For 9," program of the Joe Burrow Foundation that promotes hunger security.

They'll head back home and do more of the same in Athens Saturday night before driving over to Cleveland Sunday morning to hopefully watch Joe become the first Ohio-bred quarterback to lead the Bengals to a win over the Browns (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) in the 100th "Battle of Ohio."

"Since he was at LSU, he has wanted to be in Ohio and play for the Bengals and that's where we wanted him to be," says Jimmy Burrow, now knowing he's here through the 10th season of his career in 2029. "I know people before the draft were saying, 'Maybe that's not the place he would want to be.' It makes it even more special in the state of Ohio for sure."

Just like that 2020 draft and the Bengals taking Burrow No. 1 overall, the extension worked just as well.

"We were optimistic and positive about our feelings it would get done the whole time," Jimmy Burrow says. "It's a business and it's complex, but never did we think, 'Hey, this might not get done.' We were confident the whole time."

But the old Ohio University defensive coordinator used to immersing himself in the finer points stayed out of the weeds on this one. He knows his personnel.

"I never discussed it with Joe. He's great at blocking out the noise and I think he did a good job of that this time around, too," Jimmy Burrow says. "I stayed totally out of the numbers and the details. I was just kept up to date by (agent) Brian Ayrault.

"I might have asked Joe, 'How are the contract negotiations going?' He just might say, 'Good,' or 'still working on it,' or something was being sent. So I knew not to push the envelope. Joe was consistently involved talking to his agent and knew what he wanted."

Jimmy Burrow praises both sides. Ayrault and Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn. The pact had been made when the negotiations began. Not only no leaks, but no public discussions at all, an edict Bengals president Mike Brown famously invoked at his training camp news conference.

The Burrow Bengals blanked the media during U.S. Open week. 6-0, 6-0. "I'm not blowing smoke. Katie did a great job," Jimmy Burrow says. "That's the way business should be conducted. Very professional on both sides."

Jimmy figured it would get done by the first game. He couldn't pinpoint a date, but he noticed something familiar in the last couple of weeks.

"Once it gets close to game time, you know this, he's in another world," Jimmy Burrow says. "He concentrates trying to get ready and it never crossed his mind if healthy he would not play this game."

All of it was so different than the late '70s when Jimmy was negotiating his own deal as one of the Canadian Football League's top safeties.

"(The exchange rate) was $1.05 when I first went to Montreal," Jimmy Burrow recalls. "My next contract I was talking to the GM and I told him the Canadian dollar is worth about 85 cents right now. So there should be some kind of compensation for that. And he said, 'Well, you didn't give me any money back when it was $1.05.' That was the end of that demand."

The rookie deal with the Packers in 1976 was a bit more cut-and-dried. Jimmy Burrow, an eighth-round pick, had the same agent his more highly drafted Nebraska teammates had. But he can't remember the name.

"I couldn't have given him much," he says. "Because there wasn't much to give."

Chad Johnson no longer has the most famous guarantee in Bengals history. The way Jimmy remembers it, 20 grand base with $7,000 to sign. "And," says the father who has a son with a reported $219 million guarantee, "none of it was guaranteed, for sure."

His position coach was future Bengals head coach Dick LeBeau and "he was making way more money than me as a coach. That's not the case anymore, but I was just happy to get drafted … Things have changed, but I was happy. It's more of a business, certainly."

But there's something that hasn't changed, along with Joe Burrow's focus. Whether it was coach Sam Smathers' third-grade Athens Bulldogs or the two-time AFC finalist Bengals, Joe Burrow cherishes his teammates.

Jimmy Burrow didn't read the fine print, but his understanding is that the deal still allows other contracts to get done.

"We all know that Joe wants his team around him to be compensated," Jimmy Burrow says. "He loves those guys. Loves his teammates. He knows the whole reason he's able to get a contract like this is because of his teammates and coaches and he'll be the first to tell you that."

Quite a week.

"It's a great day," Jimmy Burrow says Friday. "Great day for the Burrows. Great day for the Bengals. Great day for Bengals fans. A win-win for everybody."

Unlike that old Packers contract, that seemed guaranteed.