Tebow, Huskers Influenced Burroughs’ Grit

Gold medalist Jordan Burroughs enjoys proving those who doubt him wrong.

By Randy York

The only world champion that American wrestling has had in six years will get his share of national media exposure in the coming months, not to mention the next four years, and one of the best sidebars about Jordan Burroughs happens to relate to football. “I draw inspiration from a lot of people, and Tim Tebow is right up there at the top,” said Burroughs, who won a gold medal Friday that will pave a yellow brick road to places even he hasn’t imagined. “Tebow’s a great player. He’s succeeded at a number of levels and every step he takes, he’s always had doubters and naysayers.

“I’ve learned a lot just watching how he operates,” Burroughs said of Tebow, the former Florida Gator and Denver Bronco quarterback who’s now trying to carve out a career as a New York Jet. “Every time I watch Tebow, he has a lot of people who doubt him. But he just keeps working hard, continues to be humble and always acts with class, on and off the field. He’s just a winner and he’s been a real motivator to me to continue to be who I am despite the media coverage and all the hoopla that surrounds athletic accomplishments.”

Friday’s Olympic gold medal performance in London was another reminder for Burroughs “to continue to be me, to continue to succeed and to continue to do what I need to do most – find a way to get better every day. That’s what Tim Tebow’s all about, and that’s what I want to be all about. Forget those who tell you what you can’t do and concentrate on everything that you can.”

Burroughs does not need to look far to get the same inspiration from Nebraska football that he gets from Tebow.  “I’m a huge fan of Husker football,” he said. “Regardless of what I’ve accomplished in my wrestling career, it has never taken me away from what I’ve always been – a huge sports fan that loves a lot of sports, but particularly football. I can recognize greatness, and I can tell who works the hardest every day to do what they need to do to be great. I love watching Rex Burkhead. I know I made a lot of sacrifices and commitments to get to the top of my sport, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he (Burkhead) does everything possible to get to the top of his.”

Knowing that Mark Manning, Burroughs’ head coach, is a personal friend of Bo Pelini, Burkhead’s head coach, I can’t resist asking both if they see any true-grit connection between Burroughs and Pelini.

“Coach Pelini is a huge fan of Jordan Burroughs,” Manning said. “He’s always asking bout Jordan. He follows him pretty close and loves his quickness, his aggressiveness and the way he attacks his sport. Because of the way he can take people down, we both think Jordan would be a good tackler in football.”

I ask America’s latest individual Olympic gold medalist if he has ever met Pelini. “Yes,” Burroughs said. “He’s intense, man. He’s super intense. But he has to be intense to build a competitive team in a competitive conference. I know I’m glad that he’s a fan of mine because I’m certainly a fan of his.”

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