The 2014 Senior Bowl originally invited six quarterbacks to the postseason collegiate all-star game. Alabama's AJ McCarron was on that original list, as the game typically tries to bring in a few local talents from both Auburn and Alabama.
"I really appreciate being invited to play in the Senior Bowl," McCarron told Randy Kennedy of AL.com, back on Jan. 14. "It is quite an honor and something I've dreamed about while growing up in the Mobile area. However, at this time, I'm putting all of my focus and energy into preparing for the NFL Combine, pro day and the rest of the pre-draft evaluation process. Therefore, I won't be taking part in the Senior Bowl."
McCarron's decision was initially met with criticism, as it appears he just decided not to attend the game. McCarron is considered by most draft experts as a mid-round pick and a potential fringe starter in the NFL. Going to the Senior Bowl could have helped him improve his draft position.
He played on arguably the most talented team in the country for four seasons at Alabama, so NFL scouts and GMs would prefer to see him on a more even playing field where he's out of his comfort zone. Declining that chance sent up some red flags. Was he choosing to stick to things that are fully in his control, such as the NFL Combine and his pro day?
Fast forward seven days. Now, McCarron is insisting that doctors advised him to skip the game altogether.
"It's always been a dream of mine to play in the Senior Bowl in my hometown," McCarron told Randy Kennedy of AL.com of Jan. 21. "But my body was banged up during the year. I wanted to push through it and finish out the year for my teammates.
"When it came time to decide, I asked the advice of our team doctors, who are some of the best in the country. They said I should stay out of the game and get my body back to 100 percent healthy," McCarron told Kennedy.
McCarron very well could have an injury and in fact, according to Kennedy, he had a minor surgical procedure on his toe after the Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma. His decision to withhold that when originally declining the Senior Bowl appears to be damage control for the backlash and criticism for his decision to skip it.
In just seven days time from declining so he could focus on things like the NFL Combine, which was less than five weeks from when he originally declined, McCarron suddenly had a rash of injuries.
Which is fine.
He did have a boot on his foot to begin the season at Alabama leading up to the season opener. He did have a minor surgical procedure on his toe following the bowl game, and it's likely he's banged up in other areas due to the rigors of a full football season.
But why did McCarron wait nearly a full week to disclose the information on his injuries? It would have served him better, at least in the eyes of scouting circles, if he had noted these originally instead of saying his focus was on an event less than a month after the Senior Bowl, appearing to be shying away from competition and being exposed.
McCarron's situation is just the beginning of the fun of the roller coaster ride that is NFL Draft season. Players make a decision at the advice of those around them, take heat for it and then play damage control for three months.