It’s been a long time since an Alabama quarterback made it in ‘The League’

hunter fordThe legacy of Bart Starr, Joe Namath and Kenny Stabler is ancient history to most football fans these days. Go back to Harry Gilmer and you must be a great-grandpa.

All of the above mentioned were quarterbacks for The University of Alabama and had great success in the NFL.

I wonder if AJ McCarron can become a great NFL quarterback, or if he can even start a few games?

Starr was a senior when “Ears” Whitworth arrived at Alabama. Whitworth would go down in history as one of the worst Alabama coaches. Whitworth thought it was a good idea to play younger players, and didn’t play Starr much.

But, Starr hooked up with Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi and won the first two Super Bowls.

Broadway Joe Namath famously won the third Super Bowl over a heavily favored Baltimore Colts.

Kenny “The Snake” won a Super Bowl with John Madden and the Oakland Raiders.

Starr and Namath are enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame.

Gilmer, who is in the College Football Hall of Fame, played for the Redskins and Lions in the 1940s and 50s.

The Crimson Tide has put a lot of players in the NFL over the years, but not that many quarterbacks of any stature…outside of the ones I have mentioned. Brody Croyle? Yeah. Bless his heart and his glass shoulder. John Parker Wilson? Is he still on a roster?

The “Snake” won a Super Bowl and was one of the most colorful characters in a great age of NFL football. He also played for coach “Bum” Phillips and the old Houston Oilers. Remember Billy “White Shoes”? Anybody? I can’t believe Ken Stabler is not in the NFL Hall of Fame. Snake and Bum also hooked up for a stint in New Orleans. Match made in heaven.

Broadway Joe is in the Hall of Fame mostly off the strength of his guarantee to beat the mighty Colts, and the fact he was a flamboyant dude. Outside of Super Bowl III, Namath had a bad win –loss record, and less-than-impressive stats. Ole Joe was playing with no knees, though. Imagine what he could do if he were mobile. Namath injured his knees in college. Bear Bryant once said something like: “Before Joe got hurt, he moved like a panther. After he got hurt, he moved like a human.”

Richard Todd, who played at Alabama and for the New York Jets, was one of the more successful ex-Tide quarterbacks, and the most recent ex-Tide QB to have a decent NFL career as a starter. Todd was famous for being the Jet’s starter in the late 1970s and early 1980s during the “New York Sack Exchange” era.

Jeff Rutledge played for Alabama and was the “starter” on the 1978 Crimson Tide national championship team. I say “starter” because in the old wishbone system, many quarterbacks played.

Rutledge was a 14-year veteran in the NFL, was a journeyman back-up, but was part of three Super Bowl teams. His NFL career ended in the early 1990s.

Let me get back to where I started in this column. Can AJ McCarron be a quality NFL quarterback? I think he has the skills…but he needs to get that Dorito off his shoulder.

It would be great to see an ex-Alabama quarterback make it big again in the NFL.

By the way, SEC quarterbacks, even great ones, are not always that successful in the Big League.

Here is a list with old and recent SEC quarterbacks who played, at least for a short time, in the NFL. Can you match all of the names, with the SEC school they played for, and all the NFL teams they played for?

Archie, Eli and Peyton Manning. (two different SEC schools, several NFL teams, one family…the easy question…or is it?)

Cam Newton. (okay, easy)

Tim Tebow

Bert Jones. (getting tougher)

David Woodley.

Y.A. Title

Jay Barker

Stan White

Jay Cutler

Matthew Stafford

Joe Ferguson (Trick question because when he played his school was not in the SEC)

Steve Spurrier

Shane Mathews

Pat Sullivan

David Greene

Danny Wuerfull

Fran Tarkenton

JaMarcus Russell

Scott Hunter

Steve Sloan

23 thoughts on “Alabama Football: Can AJ McCarron succeed in the NFL?”

  1. I can’t wait to find out. For all the rookie QB’s that have recently either thanked or come close to almost being decent, I can’t wait to see what happens when AJ McCarron gets his shot.

  2. To answer your question about John Parker Wilson, no, he is not currently on an NFL roster and is considered a free agent. He spent three years in the NFL, mainly on practice squads before being released by the Steelers last August.

    His career is/was very similar to Jay Barker, who bounced from Green Bay to New England to Carolina before being cut loose. Jay of course spent time playing in Canada; I haven’t heard news of Wilson considering that route, but he may.

    Greg McElroy seems to be on the same track, playing for the dysfunctional Jets for two seasons…even leading them to a rare win in a start…before being let go. Currently he’s on the Bengals’ roster on the “reserve” roster. His prospects, though not shining, appear more promising than JP or Barker’s.

    You might thumb your nose at being a reserve or practice squad player, but considering they make a league practice squad minimum $6,000 per week, I’d do it. They can make more; it’s up to their team. These players are paid week-to-week, and can be released at any time. But if they remain a practice squad player for a complete NFL season, at the league minimum, they’ll earn $102,000.

    So there’s motivation to keep plugging away even when it appears your career is going nowhere.

    1. I can’t ignore the bizarre change of rank with the Cincinnati Bengals having both Andy Dalton and Greg McElroy on the roster but Greg as the backup.
      Don’t forget, Dalton was undefeated at TCU the same season Boise State, Texas and Alabama were also undefeated. Texas got the nod, Alabama got the title, but I’ll never forget seeing Dalton’s face when they announced TCU and Boise State wouldn’t be playing for a national championship. Any of those games would have been fantastic.

      I think the right choice was made, but why that wasn’t the catalyst for a playoff system I’ll never know.

      Then again, it took Alabama for the college football landscape to change two years later regardless. Roll Tide.

      1. What tv were you watching? TCU was NOT undefeated in 2009. Bama and Boise were the only undefeated teams, and Boise was so impressed with Bama that they didn’t even argue about the UNANIMOUS selection as #1 that Bama got. Now in 2010 when Weagle won the title, TCU WAS undefeated, and TCU got some of Weagles #1 votes – even after the BCSNCG. RTR!

    2. I would hold for extra points all day long every day… and you know what. Drop that bitch and see what happens!!

  3. Also, a caveat here, the Denver Broncos puke-fest in the Super Bowl notwithstanding, something has to be said about Russell Wilson’s similarities with AJ McCarron.

    After all, Russell Wilson’s role in the playoffs and especially in the Super Bowl was a “game manager.”

    The big knock on McCarron is that he’s a pocket passer who doesn’t run because he lacks speed. Wilson, meanwhile, is heralded for his speed, despite his lack of size and height.

    However, in those games Wilson simply didn’t do much running. In fact, in the Super Bowl alone Wilson threw the ball away and out-of-bounds more than he ran the ball past the line of scrimmage. He mitigated turnover risks and took big play opportunities when they arose, and he changed the play at the line of scrimmage after reading the defense to create more of those opportunities (that’s how I like my football anyway).

    I’m not saying AJ McCarron is as capable of winning a title as a rookie in the NFL as Wilson was, and I’m certainly not trying to discount the performance of the Seahawks as a whole (particularly on defense), but here we are, looking at a rookie making a $500,000 salary despite winning the crown jewel of American sports after playing incredibly similarly to a guy who helped win three national titles in the college version of the same sport.

    To say McCarron doesn’t at least look like a good pick seems incredibly short-sighted even for the most discerning talent critic. It simply wouldn’t surprise me if McCarron turned out to be a high-caliber performer in the NFL. It took Cam Newton four seasons to make the playoffs only to lose in the first round at home after a bye-week, but the hype was paramount from his first season including record-breaking rookie stats.

    It took a guy similar to McCarron two seasons to win the Super Bowl, never mind the intangibles and McCarron’s leadership characteristics. I don’t think I’ve ever been so curious about an Alabama title-winning QB in the pros. Here’s to you, AJ. Roll Tide.

  4. i’m playing fair here, no googling:

    bert jones and david woodley……LSU??

    tarkenton – UGA.

    cutler – vandy.

    pretty boy mathews – spurrier’s first qb at florida.

    the rest are fairly obvious.

    i remember woodley for splitting time w/ don strock as miami dolphin qb before the great dan marino hit the scene in south beach. if i remember correctly, woodley killed himself later.

    1. ok, i googled it. (couldn’t stand it)

      woodley didn’t kill himself per se. but his drinking did get his kidneys and liver. he died when those organs failed him.

    1. It’s a wonder the poor motherfucker survived his first jump on that piece of shit motorcycle. Damn thing wasn’t designed to even jump a damn speed bump. God only knows what he could have done with a modern motorcycle with three times the suspension and shock travel and 30% of the weight. Anyway, I quit watching him after the Snake River Canyon bullshit. Made him look like a Snake Oil salesman. Kind of like Malzhan and his HUNH offense. ROTFLMAO!RTR!

      1. If you are a certain age you remember Evel on ABC Wide World of Sports and the most awesome toy of all time, the Evel Knievel motorcycle that you wound up and launched over a home made ramp and all the Tonka trucks you could line up.

  5. I hate to hurt your rabbit-assed mind with this… but….take an aspirin and call me in the morning.
    EVEL it is EVEL

  6. FWIW, Jeff Rutledge engineered one of the great comebacks in NFL history when he was with the Redskins in a game against Detroit.
    Jeff threw for 360+ yards in less than a half of football.

    I’ll let Wikipedia take it from here:

    “Trailing 35-14 with 10:37 left in the third quarter Rutledge replaced an ineffective Stan Humphries and led a great comeback. He completed 30 of 42 passes for 363 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 12 yards for the game tying touchdown with only 24 seconds remaining. In overtime, he hit Art Monk with a vital 40-yard pass on third and 15 to help set up Chip Lohmiller’s game winning field goal.

    That game meant that Rutledge got the nod to start the following week on Monday Night against the Philadelphia Eagles in a game that was to become infamously known as the “Body Bag Game”. Rutledge, first, and then Stan Humphries were knocked out of the game, leaving emergency quarterback Brian Mitchell (a kick returner and former college quarterback) to finish the game. Rutledge would never start an NFL game again but he did see spot duty in relief of returning starter Mark Rypien in the Skins 1991 Super Bowl Championship season, including some playing time in the Skins last game of the regular season, again against the Philadelphia Eagles.”

    Just sayin’.

    1. Man I remember watching that game. !! Rutledge looked like an All Pro on that day.

  7. I think AJ is Bama’s best hope for a Modern Day NFL QB who becomes a starter and a HOF player at the position…But I ain’t holding my breath…I thought the same thing about Brodie “Glass Shoulder” Croyle and JPW… and G Mac….Heck I thought ALL those guys would be great in the NFL…We shall see…Won’t we…Best of luck to AJ.
    Roll Tide Y’all,
    Protect America, Build Submarines

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