Things may change after he’s been through the process a few times, but Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron seemed to enjoy his first mid-week press conference Wednesday ahead of his first NFL start Sunday at San Francisco.
Whereas Andy Dalton tries to say as little as possible during his weekly sessions, McCarron was effusive, entertaining and enlightening.
Here are some of the highlights from his first trip to the podium:
Q: An Alabama quarterback hasn’t won in NFL since 1987, does that motivate you?
A: No. Alabama’s Alabama. The Cincinnati Bengals — that’s why I’m here now. I’m worried about winning this game for the North championship. That’s my No. 1 priority. I’m worried about these guys. As for the history: that’s history, so I’m not worried about that.
Q: How much have you heard from friends and former teammates since Sunday?
A: I’ve heard a ton. I kind of feel like a jerk sometimes because I haven’t been able to respond to everybody. I kind of wish there was a thing where you could highlight everyone and send a group message. But, it’s just hard. If they see this, tell them I really appreciate everything – from the people back in Mobile, (Ala.) all the praise I’ve been getting, it just makes you feel proud. I really appreciate it and am very thankful and humbled by this whole process. I’m just blessed, so I really appreciate it.
Q: Do you remember your first start at Alabama?
A: Yeah, it was against Kent State. I had two touchdowns (actually one), two interceptions – almost the same as Pittsburgh, but we won. I was kind of splitting time with Phillip (Sims), and Coach told me I had the nod to start that game. I knew we had a great team then. Both of my interceptions were just bad luck. I don’t think I had any bad interceptions, like Sunday. It was just an unreal experience, kind of like Sunday was. I guess in college I knew I was about to play and I was trying to make sure I wasn’t too cold or too hot, didn’t have too much on or not enough, so it was a little different than being thrown in there. It was just a great experience and it led to some fun times.
Q: Do you remember your first game, when you were 3 years old?
A: No, but my favorite play from when I was younger – not to ramble on with useless stuff, but – it was toward the end of the game and we called a QB sneak, and literally the whole line and the defensive line created a horseshoe. Just like a big ‘U’ and no one was going anywhere. And I was just standing there, running like this (in place). I turned and looked around, and my running back is standing behind me, and he’s just looking at me. And we were little kids, so I decided to run out of the horseshoe backwards, and everyone just stayed right there, and no one ever saw me, and I ran down the sidelines. Then, the fastest kid in the park league caught me. I was 40 yards in front of him, and he hawks me down, catches me at the one-inch line. I’m like, ‘You’re not going to let me score?’ I remember that.
Q: Everyone has a take on what leadership is. What’s yours?
A: I think you can lead by all different ways. Mine, I just feel like I always play the game with passion. I try to get everybody else to show a side of them they might not want to show or might not show all the time. Show a little excitement, do a little crazy dance, do something. So I kind of told A.J. (Green) that, and then he punts the ball (kicked McCarron’s first TD pass ball into the stands). I wish I had taken that back (laughs), but that’s the way I’ve always played the game before. Brett Favre is my favorite quarterback of all time. It’s not just because of all his decision-making, but the way he played the game. That’s what I love about the game, because it’s a game. Yes we get paid a great amount and it’s a blessing, but at the end of the day, it’s a game, and you have to play it like you’re a kid in the backyard just having fun.
— By Jay Morrison, Special for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution