Joe Burrow called Peyton Manning for rookie year advice: 'It's a marathon, not a sprint'

Liz Roscher
·3 min read

The 2020 NFL draft is just days away, and the projected No. 1 pick, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, is starting to prepare himself for life as a professional football player. The 2019 Heisman Trophy winner was looking for advice, so he picked up the phone and called another No. 1 overall draft pick — who also happens to be an NFL Hall of Famer.

Peyton Manning talked about the phone call he got from Burrow on Sunday’s “SportsCenter.” Burrow appeared at the Manning Passing Academy camp last summer, so the two know each other and have stayed in touch. Manning had a lot of advice for Burrow, who needs to be ready to face adversity as his career begins.

"He called me about some of the things that I tried to do as a rookie that maybe he can apply to his NFL career. Looks like it's going to be with the Cincinnati Bengals. Look what I told him, I said, 'Joe if you're the first pick in the NFL draft you are going to a team that has really earned the first pick in the NFL draft. There are going to be some holes there. And there's a reason the Colts were picking No. 1 that year. There's a reason the Bengals are picking No. 1 this year. The Giants when they had Eli...'

“For him, I tried to tell him it’s a marathon, not a sprint. I lost more games my rookie year than my entire high school and college career combined. I threw 26 interceptions. That’s still an NFL record, and if Joe wants to break that, I’d be OK with that, we’d still be friends.

"I tried to learn a lot that year, I played every game and learned some things in those fourth quarter blowouts about what it took to have success in this league. So that’s what I encouraged and relayed to Joe is that your rookie year isn’t going to be the same as your senior year in college. If you learn how fast these defensive backs are, how soon you have to get rid of the ball and understand defenses, then you can really get it going the year or two after that."

Manning knows what he’s talking about. The Indianapolis Colts went 3-13 in his first season after going No. 1 overall in the 1998 draft. Adding him didn’t change things overnight. Manning emphasized that Burrow should be ready to learn from everything he sees and experiences, and he shouldn’t judge himself too harshly after his first season.

That first year of struggle and learning paid off for Manning. In 1999 he led the Colts to a 13-3 record and an appearance in the playoffs. Could there be a better goal for Burrow to have, or a better lesson for him to learn? No matter what happens in his rookie year, it doesn’t have to define him.

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