Former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback A. J. McCarron has hit the ground running in his first season in the XFL, leading the St. Louis Battlehawks to two thrilling comeback victories for a 2-0 start.
Aside from his performance on the field, McCarron received praise from XFL owner Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson on Friday because of his decision to leave the NFL to pursue a career where he could “create memories” with his two young boys.
“Takes less money signing with us over the NFL because he wanted his little boys to see him play,” Johnson said of McCarron in a tweet earlier Friday morning.
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“Now he’s 2-0 and led his team to back-to-back exciting last minute wins. I’d say he’s creating some memories for his boys. AJ’s decision means a helluva lot to me, personally.”
Johnson was referring to remarks McCarron made last week regarding his decision to pursue a career in the XFL over the NFL, where he served as backup quarterback to teams including the Atlanta Falcons, the Houston Texans and the Las Vegas Raiders.
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“My 6-year-old loves watching tape of me on YouTube. That’s a big reason I chose to return this way,” McCarron said, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“I probably could’ve tried to come back with an NFL team and had a chance to probably make bigger money, but no one knows what the future holds. I’m enjoying this, and it’s a great way to create some memories for me and my boys.”
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The Battlehawks defeated the Seattle Sea Dragons on Thursday night, 20-18, after McCarron led his team to a fourth quarter comeback. Placekicker Donny Hageman, who played at San Diego State before moving on to the Arena Football League, solidified the win with a 44-yard field goal.
McCarron completed 22 passes for 184 yards and one touchdown in that game. He also rushed for 41 yards and another score on the ground.
“Ever since I came out of college I’ve been counted out a little bit,” McCarron said after the game. “And it’s just fun to come out here and play. I miss playing, not always just being a backup and that’s a great living. It really is and I absolutely love it but I love playing.This is special and I can't thank the XFL enough.”