It wasn’t unusual that Bengals backup quarterback AJ McCarron received a warm embrace from Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson prior to Sunday’s Battle of Ohio game at Paul Brown Stadium.
What drew attention to McCarron and Jackson’s pre-game pow-pow in the Cincinnati endzone was the addition of Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.
The Browns had botched a potential trade for McCarron on Oct. 31 because of the club’s failure to report the move to the NFL by deadline, but McCarron said after the Bengals’ 30-16 win Sunday the trade didn’t come up in his conversation with Jackson and Haslam.
»RELATED: Mixon powers Bengals past Browns
“We were really just talking about the game last night between ‘Bama and Auburn, and I just went over and said ‘hey’ to Mr. Haslam,” said the former Alabama quarterback. “I’ve known him for a while, and we were basically just talking college football, and he’s a big Tennessee guy, so I asked him about Tennessee and who was going to be the next guy there. Really that was it. There was really nothing more to it. Things like that get blown out. I’ve known Mr. Haslam for a while. I took a visit up there during the draft and spent a lot of time with him. That was basically it.”
Jackson, who was the Bengals offensive coordinator through McCarron’s first two seasons, laughed when he was asked about the conversation in his post-game press conference and confirmed McCarron’s comments.
“If I’m correct, I think the last time he played in that game, Auburn won that game,” Jackson said. “I think people sometimes make too much of stuff like that, especially since we had engaged in the previous trade situation. But we didn’t get into anything more than yesterday’s Iron Bowl.”
Jackson, in his second season with the Browns, had sprinted up to McCarron, a fifth-round draft pick in 2014, and bear-hugged him to begin the conversation. McCarron said he wasn’t concerned what people might think, and the botched trade didn’t even come up.
“I personally don’t want to bring up something that didn’t happen,” McCarron said. “There is no point in even wasting any energy on it. That was it, talking college ball, and of course the picture was taken and it gets blown up.”
McCarron said he didn’t think too much about how he could have been starting for the opposing team Sunday, rather than sitting on the bench.
However, he did note that it would have been a good opportunity had the trade gone through.
“As a competitor you would love the opportunity and love the chance to lead your own team and have a chance to play, but things happen for a reason,” McCarron said. “I believe that. God’s got a plan. We’ve just got to wait it out and deal it on God’s time. It’s not our time. The opportunity would have been awesome for sure.”