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Harry Carson

Harry Carson

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Harold Donald Carson is a former American football
American football
American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

 inside linebacker
Linebacker
A linebacker is a position in American football that was invented by football coach Fielding H. Yost of the University of Michigan. Linebackers are members of the defensive team, and line up approximately three to five yards behind the line of scrimmage, behind the defensive linemen...

 who played his entire professional career for the NFL's
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

 New York Giants
New York Giants
The New York Giants are a professional American football team based in East Rutherford, New Jersey, representing the New York City metropolitan area. The Giants are currently members of the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

 (1976-1988)
History of the New York Giants (1979–1993)
The period of 1979 to 1993 was one of the most succesful in New York Giants franchise history. Members of the NFL's National Football Conference, the Giants struggled after reaching the NFL Championship Game in 1963. The 1964 season began a 15-year stretch in which the Giants were unable to make...

. Carson was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame
College Football Hall of Fame
The College Football Hall of Fame is a hall of fame and museum devoted to college football. Located in South Bend, Indiana, it is connected to a convention center and situated in the city's renovated downtown district, two miles south of the University of Notre Dame campus. It is slated to move...

 in 2002 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame of professional football in the United States with an emphasis on the National Football League . It opened in Canton, Ohio, on September 7, 1963, with 17 charter inductees...

 in 2006.

Early life


Born in Florence, South Carolina
Florence, South Carolina
-Municipal government and politics:The City of Florence has a council-manager form of government. The mayor and city council are elected every four years, with no term limits...

, Carson played at Wilson High School
Wilson High School (Florence, South Carolina)
Wilson High School is one of three high schools in Florence Public School District One in Florence, South Carolina. Wilson is the only high school in the Pee Dee region that offers the International Baccalaureate diploma.- History :...

 and later at McClenaghan High School, from which he graduated.

College career


Before his NFL career, Carson played college football
College football
College football refers to American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities...

 for Willie Jeffries
Willie Jeffries
Willie Jeffries, was a college football coach. In his 29-year career, Jeffries compiled a 179-132-6 record. He coached 19 years at his alma mater South Carolina State University in two stints, five years at Wichita State University, and five years at Howard University...

 at South Carolina State University
South Carolina State University
South Carolina State University is a historically black university located in Orangeburg, South Carolina, United States. It is the only state funded, historically black land-grant institution in South Carolina and is a member school of the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund.- Colleges, departments,...

 from 1972–1975, not missing a single game in four years. He became the first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference is a collegiate athletic conference of historically black colleges and universities in the Southeastern United States...

 player to win consecutive defensive player of the year honors, and assisted the Bulldogs to consecutive conference championships. In 1975, he was a first team selection on the AFCA
AFCA
AFCA can refer to:* AFC Ajax* A.F.C. Aldermaston* Air Force Communications Agency* American Football Coaches Association* American Foundation for Children with AIDS* Antique Fan Collectors Association* Australian Film Critics Association...

 College-Division All-America
All-America
An All-America team is an honorary sports team composed of outstanding amateur players—those considered the best players of a specific season for each team position—who in turn are given the honorific "All-America" and typically referred to as "All-American athletes", or simply...

 team and set school records with 117 tackles and 17 sacks. With Carson as their captain, the Bulldogs defense recorded six shutouts in 1975, and held their opponents to just 29 points, an NCAA
National Collegiate Athletic Association
The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a semi-voluntary association of 1,281 institutions, conferences, organizations and individuals that organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States...

 record for a ten game season. Carson's Bulldog teammates included former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Donnie Shell
Donnie Shell
Donnie Shell is a former American Football strong safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the National Football League between 1974 and 1987. Shell was a member of the Steelers famed Steel Curtain defense in the 1970s.Shell retired as the NFL strong safety career leader in interceptions with 51...

 and former Kansas City Royals first baseman Willie Mays Aikens. In 2002, Carson was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame
College Football Hall of Fame
The College Football Hall of Fame is a hall of fame and museum devoted to college football. Located in South Bend, Indiana, it is connected to a convention center and situated in the city's renovated downtown district, two miles south of the University of Notre Dame campus. It is slated to move...

.

Professional career


After his college career, Carson was drafted
NFL Draft
The National Football League Draft is an annual event in which the National Football League teams select eligible college football players and it is their most common source of player recruitment. The basic design of the draft is each team is given a position in the drafting order in reverse order...

 in the fourth round of the 1976 NFL Draft
1976 NFL Draft
The 1976 National Football League Draft was an annual player selection meeting held on April 8–April 9, 1976. It lasted 17 rounds, with the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks making the first two selections. The expansion teams were also given a pair of extra picks at the end of...

 by the Giants. He spent all of his 13 seasons with them, leading the team in tackles for five seasons, and was their captain for ten. Carson was a member of the Crunch Bunch
Crunch Bunch
The Crunch Bunch was the nickname for the group of New York Giants football team's defensive linebackers in 1981, 1982 and 1983, one of the NFL's best group of linebackers....

, a team of fierce linebackers composed of Carson, Brad Van Pelt
Brad Van Pelt
Brad Alan Van Pelt was an American football linebacker who played fourteen seasons in the National Football League....

, Brian Kelley, and Lawrence Taylor
Lawrence Taylor
Lawrence Julius Taylor , nicknamed "L.T.", is a Hall of Fame former American football player. Taylor played his entire professional career as a linebacker for the New York Giants in the National Football League...

. The group is widely considered one of the best defensive combos in NFL history. He was a member of the Big Blue Wrecking Crew
Big Blue Wrecking Crew
The Big Blue Wrecking Crew is a nickname used to refer to the defense for the New York Giants during the 1980s that won two Super Bowl Championships, the first in Super Bowl XXI in 1986 and the other in Super Bowl XXV in 1990...

 defense and also made nine Pro Bowl
Pro Bowl
In professional American football, the Pro Bowl is the all-star game of the National Football League . Since the merger with the rival American Football League in 1970, it has been officially called the AFC–NFC Pro Bowl, matching the top players in the American Football Conference against those...

 appearances (1978–1979, 1981–1987) in his career. In the 1980s he was joined by Lawrence Taylor, another Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker. In his 13 seasons, Carson intercepted 11 passes and returned them for a total of 212 yards. He also recovered 14 fumbles, returning them for 36 yards and one touchdown. Officially, he recorded eight quarterback sack
Quarterback sack
In American football and Canadian football, a sack occurs when the quarterback is tackled behind the line of scrimmage before he can throw a forward pass, or when the quarterback is tackled behind the line of scrimmage in the "pocket" and the intent of what he was going to do is unclear...

s (sacks did not become an official NFL statistic until 1982) but his total is 19 sacks when the 1976-81 seasons are included. He retired at the end of the 1988 season, two years after helping the team
1986 New York Giants season
The 1986 New York Giants season was one of the most successful seasons in the professional American football franchise's history. The Giants, who play in the National Football Conference of the National Football League , won their fifth championship—and first Super Bowl—in franchise history during...

 to win Super Bowl XXI
Super Bowl XXI
Super Bowl XXI was an American football game played on January 25, 1987 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California to decide the National Football League champion following the 1986 regular season. The National Football Conference champion New York Giants won their first Super Bowl by defeating...

, the Giants' first, with seven tackles.

Carson was one of the first practitioners of the "Gatorade Shower" which is when the coach of the winning team is doused with a cooler of Gatorade
Gatorade
Gatorade is a brand of sports-themed food and beverage products, built around its signature product: a line of sports drinks. Gatorade is currently manufactured by PepsiCo, distributed in over 80 countries...

 by some of the players following a win. The practice was started by his teammate Jim Burt in 1985 as Carson recounted in his 1987 book Point of Attack:The Defense Strikes Back. When Bill Parcells
Bill Parcells
Duane Charles "Bill" Parcells is a former American football head coach, most recently with the Dallas Cowboys from 2003 to 2006...

 had Carson as a player with the Giants, he would have him at his side during the singing of the national anthem for good luck.

Bill Belichick
Bill Belichick
William Stephen "Bill" Belichick is an American football head coach for the New England Patriots of the National Football League. After spending his first 15 seasons in the league as an assistant coach, Belichick got his first head coaching job with the Cleveland Browns in 1991...

, an assistant coach for the Giants for 12 years, who as head coach, led the New England Patriots
New England Patriots
The New England Patriots, commonly called the "Pats", are a professional football team based in the Greater Boston area, playing their home games in the town of Foxborough, Massachusetts at Gillette Stadium. The team is part of the East Division of the American Football Conference in the National...

 to three 21st century Super Bowl victories, considered Carson the best all-around linebacker he ever coached.

Hall of Fame



Carson was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006. His selection came after years of outspoken criticism of the Hall of Fame selection process, where his principal criticism was that the vote is done by the media, not players and coaches. In 2004, Carson asked to have his name taken off the ballot.

Despite previously stating that due to his frustration at not being elected he wanted his name removed from the ballot, when elected to the Hall of Fame in 2006 Carson appeared and gave an induction speech. Carson later commented on the selection, saying he was humbled by the selection but noting:
"The Hall of Fame will never validate me. I know my name will be in there, but I take greater pride in the fact that my teammates looked at me as someone they could count on. I still remember, and I will remember this for the rest of my life, the Super Bowl against Denver
Super Bowl XXI
Super Bowl XXI was an American football game played on January 25, 1987 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California to decide the National Football League champion following the 1986 regular season. The National Football Conference champion New York Giants won their first Super Bowl by defeating...

. We had three captains — me, Phil Simms
Phil Simms
Phillip Martin "Phil" Simms is a former American football quarterback, and currently a television sportscaster for the CBS network. After a standout career at Morehead State University, Simms was drafted in the first round by the New York Giants of the National Football League with the number...

 and George Martin
George Martin (American football)
George Dwight Martin is a former American football defensive end who played his entire career in the National Football League for the New York Giants...

. But when it came time for the coin toss before the game, I started to go out and looked around for those guys. Bill Parcells
Bill Parcells
Duane Charles "Bill" Parcells is a former American football head coach, most recently with the Dallas Cowboys from 2003 to 2006...

 said to me: 'No. You go. Just you.' And that was about the coolest feeling I've ever had in the world — going out to midfield for the Super Bowl, as the lone captain. There were nine Denver Broncos out there, and me. Just me. An awesome responsibility. The greatest respect."

After football


Carson remains in close involvement with the Giants. He has also had a successful career in sports broadcasting and has his own company, Harry Carson Inc., which deals mainly in sports consulting and promotions. Carson was also part-owner of the Arena Football League's New Jersey Red Dogs, alongside ex-Giants Carl Banks
Carl Banks
Carl E. Banks is a former American football linebacker in the National Football League from 1984 to 1995 for the New York Giants, the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Browns. He made the Pro Bowl in 1987, had 39.5 career quarterback sacks, and was a member of the NFL's 1980's All-Decade Team...

 and Joe Morris
Joe Morris (American football)
Joseph Edward Morris is a former American football running back in the National Football League who played for the New York Giants from 1982 to 1988. Initially noted for his diminutive stature — 5' 7", Morris was a key member of the Giants team that won Super Bowl XXI in 1987...

. He currently co-hosts Giants Access Blue on My 9
WWOR-TV
WWOR-TV, virtual channel 9 , is the flagship station of the MyNetworkTV programming service, licensed to Secaucus, New Jersey and serving the Tri-State metropolitan area. WWOR is owned by Fox Television Stations, a division of the News Corporation, and is a sister station to Fox network flagship...

 with Bob Papa
Bob Papa
Bob Papa is an American sportscaster. Papa is employed by NFL Network, HBO, and the New York Giants.-Biography:Papa grew up in Dumont, New Jersey and graduated from Bergen Catholic High School in nearby Oradell...

.

Since his retirement, Carson has suffered from various physical maladies brought on by injuries incurred during his playing days. He suffers from post-concussion syndrome
Post-concussion syndrome
Post-concussion syndrome, also known as postconcussive syndrome or PCS, and historically called shell shock, is a set of symptoms that a person may experience for weeks, months, or occasionally up to a year or more after a concussion – a mild form of traumatic brain injury . PCS may also...

, and estimates that he had 15 concussions during his career. In 1992 he stated: "I don't think as clearly as I used to. Nor is my speech, diction, selection of vocabulary as good as it used to be, and I don't know why." In 2001 while he was a broadcaster with the MSG Network
MSG Network
The MSG Network, now shortened to simply MSG, is a regional cable television and radio network serving the Mid-Atlantic United States. It is focused on New York City sports teams...

 he said, "I would mispronounce words and lose my train of thought. Things would happen, and I'd think I was going crazy. I'd go to the store to get something and forget what."

Carson has been a resident of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey
Franklin Lakes, New Jersey
Franklin Lakes is a borough in Bergen County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 census, the borough population was 10,590. As of the 2000 Census, Franklin Lakes had the 18th-highest per-capita income of all 566 municipalities in the state. Nationwide, Franklin Lakes ranked 17th among the...

.

External links