clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

6 NFL player restaurant concepts that would be better than AJ McCarron’s sushi place

New, comment

Apparently Ajian is pretty good, but we’d like these more.

AJ McCarron’s sushi restaurant, Ajian, opened this week in Tuscaloosa, Ala. It’s a build-your-own sushi roll concept that includes classic sushi options like fresh strawberries and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

Ajian (which is a play on AJ’s name and the word “Asian,” get it?) is a fast casual restaurant like Chipotle or Subway, where diners get to pick exactly what they want in their roll and watch workers put it together it in real time. There are also pretty basic rolls, like a California roll or a shrimp tempura roll, that patrons can order.

But there’s also that whole Cheeto thing. And strawberries. And a topping called “bagel spice.” I don’t even know what bagel spice is, but I feel confident that it probably doesn’t belong on sushi.

Cardale Jones sounds about as impressed with McCarron’s new restaurant concept as I am.

McCarron fired back.

I love sushi. I’d put it in my top three favorite foods. And while I haven’t been to Ajian, my friend and former colleague Marq Burnett of SEC Country has. Burnett said it’s actually good. The ingredients are fresh, and even though he had a roll that combined strawberries and raw tuna, he liked it. Still, there’s no way in hell I’m going to a sushi place that serves a Flamin’ Hot Cheetos roll.

As a matter of fact, I can think of a few superior restaurant concepts NFL players could pull off.

Blake Bortles - Papa Blake’s

Papa Blake’s is a pretty run-of-the-mill pizza place, but what sets it apart from others is the phenomenal specials. In honor of the owner and founder, Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, you can pick six toppings for each pizza at no extra charge.

And while some big chains offer a discount every time the local team wins, that’s not the case for Papa Blake’s. Jaguars fans can eat away their sorrows with a half-priced pizza every time Jacksonville loses. Your team might not get to .500 yet again, but at least you’ll get some cheaper pizzas out of it.

Jabrill Peppers - Pepper’s

Peppers went to school in Michigan and now he’s up in Cleveland with the Browns. What could be more Midwestern than a chain restaurant that strongly resembles Chili’s?

Instead of Chicken Crispers, Pepper’s has Chicken Crunchers. And instead of the trademarked Triple Dipper appetizer — which combines a choice of your three favorite appetizers — Pepper’s has the Triple Decker, which does the same thing but just stacks them on top of each other. Try the Go Blue corn chips with the Maize-o queso.

This spot, well, it would be good.

Eddie Lacy - Eddie Lacy’s All-You-Can-Eat China Food Buffet

Eddie Lacy has made it clear he loves “China food.” You know every dish on his buffet line is going to be delicious. Anyone who’s this passionate about Chinese food would certainly have high standards.

And will they deliver? Oh, yes.

Lacy may want to hold off on eating there regularly until his football days are over. He’s done such a great job of getting down to an ideal playing weight.

Tom Brady - TB12’s

Brady wants to play until he’s 45, but he’s also been busy on the side building his lifestyle brand. And if anything would be on brand for Brady, it would be a weird vegan restaurant that bears his name.

There’s no meat or gluten, there’s no dairy, and there’s no soy. There’s no coffee, and there damn sure aren’t any strawberries. But there is a lot of love that goes into every dish. Just kidding. That’s actually kale.

Jake Butt - Jake’s Butts

Broncos rookie tight end Jake Butt already has it made. His cheeky last name landed him a Charmin endorsement before he was even drafted. But Butt should take it one step further and propel his name and celebrity into a successful barbecue joint.

You see, there’s no better barbecued meat than a nice pork butt. There’s no doubt that Butt endured quite a bit of teasing as a kid because of his surname, so we’d be more than happy to see him profit off it now.

Cardale Jones - Chipotle, without the lines

Clearly Jones and McCarron have a little bit of competition going on. It probably stems from their powerhouse alma maters — Ohio State and Bama.

McCarron patterned Ajian after restaurants like Chipotle, and you know who loves Chipotle? Well, everyone. But especially Jones.

But Jones also knows how to make Chipotle even better.

Yep, that Chipotle line is always annoying as hell. It doesn’t matter what part of the country you’re in or what time of day you go. Chipotle needs fast passes. Good call, Cardale.

Me too, buddy. How about 24-hour Chipotles?

This is the truth. This is why Chipotle needs Cardale as much as Cardale obviously needs Chipotle.

By all accounts, Ajian is a quality addition to Tuscaloosa. But any of these other restaurant concepts would be better — and none of them has Flamin’ Hot Cheetos sushi rolls.