We have a new portrait of confidence.

Joe Burrow in shades in front of 15,000-plus people in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center with his arms behind the back was a picture worth a 1,000 words Saturday morning in Baton Rouge. And how could it not be after the NCAA single-season leader in touchdown passes referred to the season like walking into a test when you already have the answers.

On and off the field, Burrow proved he is less “Broadway Joe” and more “Joe Cool.” No moment phased LSU’s second Heisman winner, and that included the celebrations that followed LSU’s historic 15-0 run. It was the confidence that led to the Tigers’ fourth national championship win.

And confidence was quite the theme in sports last week. It started with Burrow and the Tigers beating Clemson, 42-25, and longtime analysts Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Fowler declaring LSU as the most confident team they had ever seen heading into a national championship game.

And it culminated Saturday night when Conor McGregor made his triumphant return to the Octagon against the all-time leader in UFC wins and finishes, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. After missing approximately 15 months of action due to legal troubles and a hand injury, McGregor made his same confident walk in front of superstars like Tom Brady, Matthew McConaughey, Christian McCaffrey, Dave Bautista and Jeremy Renner. There were so many celebrities in attendance to see McGregor’s return fight that Baker Mayfield got the shaft in terms of recognition. The UFC put star after star on the big screen and gave the superstar treatment to Myles Garrett rather than Mayfield, who was sitting right next to Garrett.

But none of that mattered. McGregor was the biggest star that night, as he strutted to the octagon and finished Cerrone in 40 seconds. For a fighter who hadn’t fought in over a year, you’d think McGregor would have a little “feeling out” process at the beginning. Nonsense. McGregor ran to the center and threw a straight left off the bat, before smashing Cerrone’s nose with shoulder thrusts and putting him down with a high kick.

McGregor might not have any peers in terms of confidence in sports. He rivals the greats like Muhammed Ali, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. Talk the talk, believe you’re the greatest of all time, and whether you win or lose, come out swinging.

You can say the same about Burrow on the collegiate level. No college athlete may ever surpass Duke’s Christian Laettner in terms of cockiness, but when the lights shined brightest, Burrow delivered every single time in 2019.

And he teetered the line of cockiness with some of the things he’s come to say after the fact. He even rubbed salt in the wound of Alabama fans, calling that win in Tuscaloosa his Heisman moment and making sure everyone knew that despite the 46-41 score, the Tigers dominated the Tide. And you thought Burrow couldn’t further endear himself to LSU fans…

Sure, humility is important, but confidence is an absolute necessity for success in sports. Burrow and McGregor know this better than most, and that’s why they’re seated high atop the sports world today.

Award-winning sports writer for columns and features since joining the field in 2013. As the first-ever featured columnist of the month at Bleacher Report, Martin cut his teeth with online media before joining the newspaper business in 2014.

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