Burrow and Sinfield were granted the honour for their outstanding sporting achievements and work to support those with motor neurone disease (MND) at a ceremony in Leeds on Wednesday.
Burrow, who was diagnosed with MND in 2019, thanked his family, who were with him for the event, saying they “give me reason never to give in”.
And he praised Sinfield, “who has gone above and beyond for his mate”.
Burrow was at the ceremony with his family to hear council leader James Lewis describe how the duo have “brought the search for a cure to the forefront of public attention”.
But Sinfield, who has undertaken a series of endurance challenges to raise cash for research into MND and support Burrow and others with the illness, was unable to make the ceremony due to commitments linked to his new role with the England rugby union team.
Bob Bowman, the chief executive of the Leeds Rhinos Foundation, accepted the honour on Sinfield’s behalf.
The pair shared a dressing room at the Rhinos for nearly 15 years, winning seven Super League titles together as team-mates, with Burrow going on to lift an eighth after Sinfield’s retirement.
Lewis said the council was determined to honour the pair together due to the “bond of friendship between them”.
He said: “That friendship has touched people so much.”
Another councillor, Dan Cohen, told Leeds Civic Hall their bond is the “absolute personification of true friendship”.
Councillor Robert Finnigan said MND is an “evil and wicked disease”.
Of Burrow and Sinfield, he told gathered dignitaries: “This is what real inspiration looks like.
“It motivates us all to work harder to support and finance the fight against MND.”