Although he has been much more prolific this season than he was in 2011, AJ McCarron remains the same quietly efficient quarterback that guided Alabama to last year’s BCS title. Until his emotional game-winning drive against LSU last Saturday, McCarron wasn’t a flashy headline generator.
It’s in sharp contrast to how his mother, Dee Dee Bonner, has become a hot topic in college football circles over the past three weeks. Try Googling “AJ McCarron” and “mom” is one of the first suffixes that pops up. Not “girlfriend,” but “mom.”
It’s understandable in light of the fact that the 42-year-old Bonner is an attractive, middle-aged woman and the mother of a Heisman Trophy contender. It certainly helps draw eyeballs that she is much younger than a typical college football player’s mom, having had AJ at the age of just 20 less than three years after graduating from Mobile’s Ben C. Rain High School in 1987.
Yet it she hadn’t exhibited a sharp, ball-busting wit, fans might have never sat up to take notice.
In advance of the Crimson Tide’s Oct. 20 game at Tennessee, rumors started flying around that McCarron had torn his meniscus in the previous game against Missouri. If true, the QB’s injury threatened to derail an Alabama offense that had started to find its groove.
Bonner moved quickly to squash the rumor – as well as educate reporters on how to spell her son’s first name.
— Dee Dee Bonner (@DeeDeeBonner) October 16, 2012
Fans began to enter “Dee Dee Bonner” into their search engines to find out more about the woman who owned respected SEC reporters as well as former Tennessee quarterback and Knoxville radio host Erik Ainge on her son’s behalf.
The level of interest exploded two days later when college football blogger Clay Travis made mention of Bonner in his Oct. 18 mailbag for Outkick the Coverage. Internet users were greeted with image results of a woman who epitomized the crass “MILF” acronym.
AJ McCarron’s mom is smoking hot. Really. outkickthecoverage.com/all-that-and-a…
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravisBGID) October 19, 2012
There was McCarron’s mom wearing an extremely low-cut red cocktail dress. There she was wearing a tight-fitting white lace top. Sunning herself on the deck of a boat. Kissing her son on the lips. Being the subject of a sign held up during ESPN’s “College GameDay” that read “McCarron’s Mom Passes Kirk’s Eye Test”.
But to confuse Bonner’s outgoing personality with being an irresponsible mother would be a mistake.
Bonner makes her home in Fairhope, AL, and works at Kimberly-Clark personal and health care products in nearby Mobile as a sourcing and supply management coordinator. After divorcing McCarron’s father, Tony, in the mid-1990s, she remarried to her current husband Derek — a business manager at GE Healthcare — and helped raise his two sons, Gage and Cory.
Even while building a new life for herself, Dee remained a doting mom to AJ. She was by his bedside as he recovered from a scary Jet Ski accident in 1996 that nearly claimed his life. She had Derek toss a football around with little AJ as a means of breaking the ice. And she was on the sidelines for his high school games at St. Paul’s Episcopal School.
Now that both AJ and his mom are in the national spotlight, you can see how she’s rubbed off on him.
Just as she’s not afraid to flaunt the fact that she’s an attractive, middle-aged woman, her son isn’t afraid to adorn himself with a gaudy chest tattoo. Or autograph the chests of adoring female fans. There’s a shared emotional side to them as well. For Bonner, it was just as tearful for her to recap her son’s comeback against LSU as it was for McCarron after he had pulled it off.
Because of all the attributes that he shares with his mom, McCarron is probably having a laugh at all the attention she’s recently gotten. A part of him is probably proud of it. Alabama’s quarterback is a momma’s boy through and through.
If McCarron wins the Heisman Trophy next month and/or a second straight national championship in January, Dee Dee Bonner will officially become College Football’s First Mom to the delight of men everywhere.
Photo Credit: Marvin Gentry/US Presswire