AJ McCarron Explains His Injury at Alabama and Discusses the NFL Draft Process
If you were a casual fan that only started following college football this week, you’d probably have no idea that former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron had one of the most decorated careers in the history of the game. From his sudden fall in the NFL Draft to media and fans questioning his leadership, the frenzy around McCarron hasn’t been very positive in recent days.
Rated as the sixth best quarterback in the draft by ESPN’s Mel Kiper, McCarron fell all the way to 164th overall in the fifth round. That placed him behind eight other players at the quarterback position. Many analysts pointed to McCarron’s interview process as the reason for his draft position. They argued that front office personnel found him to be too ‘cocky’ regarding his abilities, which normally wouldn’t raise any red flags for someone at his position. But it apparently mattered this year.
The two-time national championship starting quarterback joined The Game in Tuscaloosa on Tuesday night to discuss everything that’s happened over the past week.
“There’s so many different outlets and they can say whatever they want and they’re not held to a certain standard,” McCarron told host Ryan Fowler. “If they’re wrong about it then it’s like they never said it. It’s forgotten and then they move on to the next thing.
“For people that don’t know me to say things about (me) and other people to believe what that person or those people are saying about you, it sucks. But at the same time, that’s the way life is.”
Following the draft, the Mobile native tried to explain why he might have been passed over by so many teams during an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio. During the conversation, he told the hosts that he made a lot of sacrifices at Alabama, which rubbed many fans the wrong way. But he explained in detail what he was referring to.
“I jammed my shoulder Tennessee week diving for the goal line right there when they called it a touchdown and then reversed it after replay,” McCarron said. “I had some soreness in my shoulder and it seemed like it would never heal up all of the way. That’s one of the reasons why I chose not to play in the Senior Bowl and get my body back healthy, and that’s why I’m ready to go now.”
McCarron went on to explain that the sacrifices were not exclusive to himself.
“We played through a lot. It’s not just me. There are a bunch of guys on the team that have played through a lot of injuries for our great university and for the rest of our teammates. That’s one of the things that sucked the most was hearing people down you as a leader and as a teammate that don’t know you and don’t know what all you went through for the team.”
He and his teammates had high expectations when they stepped into starting roles following the 2009 national championship, but Nick Saban held McCarron to a particularly high standard.
“(Saban) brought me up the same way that his dad brought him up,” McCarron said. “It was always tough, even though we won, it always seemed like it was never enough. He always felt like we could do better. That’s was the way he basically brought me up while coaching me. He always thought I could do better. He was always happy for me and told me that he was proud of me, but at the same time he always felt like I could play to a higher standard.”
And he did for the vast majority of his career. Now, he’s out of Saban’s program and into the world of professional football, where McCarron has already seen the scrutiny that comes along with business. Despite falling to the fifth round, he knows there’s a plan in place for his career.
“No matter what (NFL) teams tell you, things can always change,” McCarron said about the draft. “They can tell you one thing and something else happens. It’s really like I kind of thought all along. God has a plan and whatever team he has you going to in his plan, that’s the team that’s going to pick you. Just be thankful and enjoy the process.”
With his successful five-year career at The University of Alabama behind him, there’s no confusion when McCarron talks about the opportunity he’s been graced with.
“All I needed was a chance, and I got that with this great organization. Being up here in Cincinnati, it’s unbelievable. I’m excited about what the future holds.”
Listen to the full interview below.