Citing the bumpy start to his career with the Falcons, former quarterback Steve Bartkowski advised LSU quarterback Joe Burrow to "pull an Eli Manning" to avoid getting drafted by the Bengals at an awards program held Monday in Texas, according to Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Bartkowski, the No. 1 overall pick by the Falcons in 1975, gave his message to Burrow’s family at the Davey O’Brien Award ceremony in Forth Worth. The Falcons Ring of Honor member was honored with the Davey O'Brien Legends Award.
After winning the Heisman Trophy and guiding LSU to the national championship, Burrow is considered the top pick in the NFL draft in April. The Bengals own the No. 1 overall selection.
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In 2004, Manning was the No. 1 pick by the Chargers, but forced a trade to the New York Giants.
Burrows is from Athens, Ohio, which is 156 miles from Cincinnati.
“They’re Ohio guys,” Bartkowski told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I might’ve offended them by telling them that, if it’s the Bengals, I think I’d pull an Eli Manning on that one. I said, you’ve got a chance to do that. That’s happened. (John) Elway kind of set the tone, then the Mannings delved into it after Eli was picked by San Diego.”
Elway forced a trade to the Broncos after being drafted by the Colts in 1983.
The Bengals have made it to two Super Bowls, but have never won. Some believe the franchise founded by legendary coach Paul Brown is dysfunctional under owner Mike Brown, his son.
Bartkowski compared the Bengals with the Falcons, when they were under the ownership of the Rankin Smith family.
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“It’s not the best organization,” Bartkowski said. “You know, times change, things change. Atlanta wasn’t a good organization until Arthur Blank bought the team. It was a terrible organization. They didn’t know the right hand from the left to be honest.
“I know what it’s like to go to a bottom-feeder team. I’d hate to see that happen to him to be honest. They beat me up. I spent more time at the hospital recuperating from injuries my first three years than I did throwing touchdowns. It was tough.”
Bartkowski played 11 seasons for the Falcons and had one playoff victory.
Burrow is training with Jordan Palmer, who is the brother of former Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer. He retired with the Bengals in 2011, and they eventually traded him to the Raiders in the middle of the season.
The NFL draft will be held April 23-25 in Las Vegas.
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