Quarterback AJ McCarron embraced his role last season as one of the vocal leaders on Alabama’s national championship team.
And in his world, if you’re going to talk the talk, you had better walk the walk.
McCarron did just that by playing through a painful rib injury during the final part of the season.
For obvious reasons, Alabama didn’t publicize how much McCarron was hurting. But his teammates knew, and McCarron wasn’t about to come out of the lineup.
“You’ve got to knock me out to get me out of the game,” McCarron said. “I’ve got to really be hurt. That’s just the way I’ve always been.”
Dealing with the pain of having his ribs popping in and out of place was one thing. But McCarron said the hardest thing for him was not being able to throw as much during the week.
“We made it through, though. That was the main thing,” McCarron said. “My offensive teammates and receivers knew I was playing with a lot of pain, but I knew they were dealing with their own stuff. When you have that kind of support, it just helps you push through everything.
“We play for each other at Alabama.”
McCarron jokes that he still gives former Mississippi State linebacker Cam Lawrence a hard time for injuring him. Lawrence leveled McCarron late in the third quarter on a sack, causing a few of McCarron's ribs to pop out of place.
“We still keep in touch, and I tell him he didn’t have to hit me that hard,” McCarron said. “I was really hurting, but tried to get up as fast as I could. You have to, no matter what. You can’t ever let them see that you’re hurting.”