Ex-Bills QB Gets Love From Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson After Big Win

AJ McCarron

Getty AJ McCarron in 2018.

A former Buffalo Bills quarterback is taking the XFL by storm, and it’s catching the attention of the league’s famous new owner.

A.J. McCarron opted to take a risk on a starting job in the XFL rather than competing for a backup NFL job, a gamble that has paid off as he led the St. Louis Battlehawks to a 2-0 record with a pair of thrilling wins. The former Bills quarterback has also gotten some love from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who bought the rights to the XFL in 2020 after the revived league folded.

McCarron’s Thrilling Start in the XFL

McCarron has helped the XFL get off to an exciting start, leading his team to a comeback win in Week 1 and followed with a fourth-quarter rally on Thursday to defeat the Seattle Sea Dragons. After the game, an emotional McCarron praised his teammates, calling them “a bunch of dogs.”

“This team never quits,” McCarron said, via Al.com. “I’m just so proud of these guys. I really am. This team means a lot to me.”

After Thursday’s win, Johnson praised McCarron for taking less money in the XFL for the chance at another starting job. McCarron said it was important to show his young boys that he can compete as a professional starter.

“Takes less money signing with us over the @NFL because he wanted his little boys to see him play,” Johnson tweeted. “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.”

McCarron Seizing Second Chance at Football Career

McCarron is making a return to football after his NFL career came to an abrupt halt in 2021, when he suffered a season-ending ACL tear in the preseason. The 32-year-old did not return to the NFL the next season, and this offseason opted to try his luck in the XFL rather than competing for a spot on an NFL roster.

The idea of retiring was never an option, McCarron said.

“I haven’t had that thought of hanging them up,” McCarron told Al.com. “Guys are playing for so many years now, and my body feels great. In ‘21 was a freak deal – non-contact ACL. I started football at the age of 3, and that was the first injury that knocked me out a whole season. I really never had that thought.”

After becoming the first college quarterback to win consecutive BCS National Championship Games with Alabama, McCarron went on to have an unremarkable career as an NFL signal-caller. He played for six seasons, appearing in just 17 games and starting four. McCarron’s best year came as a rookie with the Cincinnati Bengals, when he started three games and threw for 854 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions.

McCarron was signed by the Bills prior to the 2018 season and went into training camp competing for the starting job, but the Bills ultimately decided to go with Nathan Peterman to start the season and traded McCarron to the then-Oakland Raiders. Peterman wouldn’t last much longer, being benched after his first game in favor of rookie Josh Allen.