Leading up to this year’s Super Bowl, there is as much buzz around Cincinnati Bengals Quarterback Joe Burrow as a beehive in Utah. The second-year signal caller has been compared to Joe Montana for his cool approach to the game … and while he brings that attribute to the contest he has an even stronger arm than the one that led Montana and the San Francisco 49ers to four Super Bowl wins during the 1980’s.
Okay, Super Bowl hype, right? I mean when the media has to fill copy space or broadcast time about one game for two weeks they are going to find more angles than a hexagon to the ninth power. Burrow is in only his second National Football League season, and while no rookie has ever led his team to a Super Bowl how have second year signal callers done?
Much better, in fact.
Perhaps the best quarterback ever to not win a Super Bowl, Dan Marino, made his lone appearance in the Super Bowl in his second season. But, of course, he lost his only shot at winning the Vince Lombardi Trophy with a defeat to the San Francisco 49ers, 38-16, in Super Bowl XIX.
So, while the Bengals are saddled with a young, second-year pro, against 12-year veteran Matthew Stafford, does the edge go to the Los Angeles Rams?
While Marino lost his bid to win the title in his second season, there are three other quarterbacks that did capture the Super Bowl while playing in their second seasons … and it is pretty good company.
Tom Brady, who has more Super Bowl wins to his credit than any franchise, won his first to complete the 2001 season. Brady was also completing his first year as a starter when he led the New England Patriots to an upset win over the two-touchdown favored St. Louis Rams, 20-17, in Super Bowl XXXVI.
Four years later, in Super Bowl XL, Ben Roethlisberger guided the Pittsburgh Steelers to a victory over the Seattle Seahawks, 21-10, in his second pro campaign. Russell Wilson, who was drafted by the Seahawks in the third round of the 2012 draft, earned Seattle their only franchise Vince Lombard Trophy with a win over the Indianapolis Colts to complete the 2013 season. The Seahawks handed Peyton Manning and Company a drubbing in Super Bowl XLVIII, 43-8.
Perhaps it is worth noting that Roethlisberger was a first round draft choice, 11th overall selection, while Wilson was the 75th pick in the 2012 allocation of college talent, and Brady a sixth round, 199th overall selection, by the Patriots in 2000. Burrow was the first player chosen in the 2020 draft.
In Super Bowl LVI, Burrow will be matched against another overall number one draft pick in Stafford. The Rams quarterback was the first overall choice of the Detroit Lions in the 2009 draft and acquired by Los Angeles in a 2021 trade that sent three high draft choices and their starting quarterback, Jared Goff, to the Motor City.
A number of quarterbacks selected in the first round have led their teams to Super Bowl appearances and wins. The six overall first round selections that played in this game all have multiple Super Bowl wins, they are Jim Plunkett, Terry Bradshaw, John Elway, Troy Aikman, Eli Manning and Peyton Manning.
Super Bowl LVI, marks the first time two overall number one selections have opposed each other in the game. One of them is going to get their first Super Bowl victory. If I was to predict which one is going to pick up multiple Super Bowl triumphs in their careers it may well be both, but in just his second year in the league, my money would be on Joe Burrow.
As for this week, the experience of Stafford, who was 0-3 in his postseason games with the Lions and is 3-0 with the Rams, doesn’t pan out as a significant advantage over the youth of the Bengals cool Joe.