Super Bowl quarterback Joe Burrow on the value of confidence: It 'might be the most important trait that you have'

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) passes from the pocket in the first quarter of the AFC Championship game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs on Jan 30, 2022 at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO.
Scott Winters | Icon Sportswire | Getty Images

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is known for his bold accessories, ability to read opposing defenses and unfaltering confidence.

Apparently, not even his first-ever Super Bowl appearance can shake that mindset. While the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner surely has a lot on his mind heading into Sunday's game, he said he feels the same as he did before his high school state championships – if not "a little calmer."

"At the end of the day, your mindset stays the same," Burrow, 25, said in a media conference Monday. "At that moment in my life, that was the biggest game that I had ever played in, and so everything kind of feels the same. I've just had more reps in those situations."

Burrow's conviction doesn't come without merit. He was the starting quarterback that led Louisiana State University to a college national championship in 2020, and in only his second NFL season, his Bengals will compete in the Super Bowl for the first time since 1988.

Since he entered the limelight playing for LSU, his self-assuredness – and lavish clothes – have become synonymous with the Burrow brand. In April 2020, the freshly crowned NCAA champion told the Bleacher Report he thought he could even score 12-15 points in an NBA game.

This week, he lauded that trait as a useful leadership quality. "I think at quarterback, you know, confidence might be the most important trait that you have," Burrow said.

Some other athletes agree. Former New England Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib, for example, told FOX Sports' "The Herd with Colin Cowherd" in 2019 that then-quarterback Tom Brady's consistency at practice "[bred] confidence" for the rest of the team.

But psychology experts are split on the issue. Adam Grant, a psychology professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, said in a 2021 TED Talk that confidence only leads to success when an individual can "acknowledge [their] weaknesses." 

"We live in a world that mistakes confidence for competence," Grant said. "Researchers have even suggested that the most tenacious mountaineers are more likely to die on expeditions because they're determined to do whatever it takes to reach the summit."

For Burrow, the confidence doesn't appear to be unearned: He said his belief in himself and his teammates has been cultivated over time, from countless hours of practice. Or, in other words, he wouldn't be nearly as confident if he hadn't worked so hard to improve — and then watched that hard work pay off.

"I wouldn't have as much confidence in myself if I didn't work hard in the offseason and didn't watch any film throughout the week," he said. "I also know that… everybody else on our team and on our coaching staff works really hard to put everybody in good positions to go make plays on Sunday. That's why I have the most confidence in our guys."

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