Why does J.J. McCarthy wear a smiley face on his hand? QB reveals story behind unique routine

Syndication: USA TODAY
Why does J.J. McCarthy wear a smiley face on his hand?

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy draws a smiley face on his hand before every single game, and it has a cool story behind it.

McCarthy started drawing a smiley face on his hand during high school. In his sophomore season, McCarthy and Nazareth Academy lost to their rivals, the Marist Red Hawks. After the game, as McCarthy was signing autographs, a girl asked the signal-caller why he looked so upset.

McCarthy told her that he played poorly, and the girl took the Sharpie marker from the quarterback and drew a smiley face on his hand, telling him to always have fun while playing football. Since then, McCarthy has continued to draw a smiley face on his hand.

McCarthy was asked about the smile signature in an interview on the NFL's YouTube channel.

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"This is something that I bring back to when I was playing in high school and just having fun and just playing with the boys and going out there with little worries at all," J.J. McCarthy said. "With all this added pressure that comes with being a franchise quarterback and being drafted and all that, it brings me back to the roots of 'hey, this is just a game at the end of the day.'
"You zoom out on planet earth and you look down, all this pressure that you're feeling really isn't there at the end of day. So just being able to go back to that moment, realize it's just a game, go out there, have fun, and I'll do my best."

In December 2022, he talked about the inspiration behind the sign.

"It comes from this profound advice that I got from a seven-year-old," he said. "First loss [in high school], didn't have the best game throwing two interceptions. It was our rival. It was at home, I was just frustrated as you can imagine. And after the game, I'm signing autographs, and I'm signing a newspaper. And she's just grilling me with questions like, 'Why are you so mad out there? Like, it's a game?' What do you mean?
"And she goes, 'You need to be happy more. You need to smile more.' And then she drew the smiley face on my hand after I gave her pen back. And then I was like, make sense. There's literally studies about smile affecting your performance."

The smiley face has also turned into an organization, as it is now being used as a logo for J.J. McCarthy's For the Kids Foundation. The foundation is a non-profit organization that distributes sales and donations to C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor and Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago.

J.J. McCarthy's draft projection

Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy is expected to be drafted in the first round of the 2024 NFL draft and could go in the top five.

The first three picks of the draft are expected to be the quarterback trio of Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye. After that, Arizona could trade down or likely select wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., leaving the Los Angeles Chargers at fifth overall to be a prime trade-down candidate.

In plenty of mock drafts, the Minnesota Vikings have been rumored to trade up to fifth overall to select McCarthy to be their franchise sign-caller.

Regardless, J.J. McCarthy will hear his name called in the first round of the 2024 NFL draft on Thursday in Detroit.

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