This week’s exclusive comes from NFL Quarterback AJ McCarron of the Cincinnati Bengals. We spoke about the pressures of elite football and how knowing Jesus gives him a fresh perspective on it all!
Cincinnati gave you that initial NFL platform to display your talent, how special is the club?
Cincinnati means a lot to me, I love the organisation, love the people here and they gave me a chance in the draft when a lot of people didn’t. It’s a special place and always will be in that regard. They definitely gave me the platform and this shot when other teams didn’t, it will always be something that I am grateful and thankful for.
As a Quarterback, you are typically seen as the leader of the team, do you thrive off the responsibility of setting the bar?
Yes for sure, I have played quarterback ever since I was three years old. I won my first QB starting job because the coach asked everybody to sit down on the bench, we then had to raise our right hand and their left hand and I was the only one to get it right, so he named me as quarterback. It is a great responsibility, you are just trying to lead the guys and motivate them in whatever way you can, I kind of see it like a point guard on a basketball team. Your job is to get the guys’ best ability out of them every time you play and that’s also a huge pressure. It is fun to be a part of for sure.
Who would you say is the best Quarterback in the NFL?
I think there is a top tier of guys, the best one playing at this moment in time is Tom Brady. The guy is unreal with the things that he can do. I think when you talk about the top tier, there are a number of guys and they all play differently with their own game. It’s hard to argue against Tom Brady right now.
Tell us your story, how did you come to know God?
I think the biggest thing, especially when I was younger was my grandfather. Every Sunday he would take me to church, we’d ride there together and it was something that he and I did together. He just taught me to go to church, treat people the right way and to try and do the right things, the bible clearly talks about how you are supposed to live your life.
When he passed away it really hurt me but I leaned on God and my wife, who is also a strong Christian. We try to treat people the way that we would want to be treated and just live our life that way.
Some of your tattoos represent your faith, what was behind you getting those done?
I feel like all of my tattoos mean something, ‘I have walk by faith and not by sight’ and little things that serve as a reminder to me. No matter how rich or poor you are, everyone has hard times in their life. You need something to look at and so if I am having a tough time I remember these things.
How difficult is it to stay grounded in your faith whilst having the pro football lifestyle, the money, the popularity, the pressures?
I think my wife and I handle it pretty well, like I said, we are both Christians as well as our family, so we lean on each other and if we need to talk we all talk it out. We have a baby boy so we don’t do anything wild, our time is usually consumed with taking care of our son. With the NFL lifestyle, certain guys can become a little wild but for myself and my wife, we are both from the south, laid back and live that way.
Thank you God for blessing my teammates and myself during that game. We win and lose as a team always. Glory to you.. #Blessed
— AJ McCarron (@10AJMcCarron) September 1, 2013
How good has Cincinnati been at supporting you in your walk, do you have team Chapel?
Yes, we have a big group of guys who have no problem speaking out about their faith. I think this team does a really good job at that and there are certain team members who are leaders and put everything together when it comes to bible study on Tuesday nights. I feel like it is done really well here.