A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
HARRY CARSON HAS HAD IT
New York, NY.—Nine-time pro bowler Harry Carson has had it with the National Football League’s Hall of Fame process. The courtship has left the former New York Giants linebacker standing at the proverbial altar eleven consecutive times, without the exchange of vows. In fact, this recent jilting (on the Saturday before Super Bowl XXXVIII) marked the fifth straight year that he reached the final 15 only to miss out. The Board of Selectors can pick as few as three candidates and as many as six.
This year they chose former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway, Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders, former defensive linemen Bob Brown of the Eagles, Rams and Raiders and Carl Eller from the Minnesota Vikings.
“As far as I’m concerned it’s over,” Carson told me via telephone while vacationing in Hawaii.
“I’m not angry at all. I’m okay. It’s a very political process when writers get together. I don’t like to get involved in politics and religion, they are both very personal.”
According to Carson the 39-member media panel has its own agenda and he’s heard that there’s a bias towards New York.
He also expressed that this decision to withdraw his name from further consideration is not just about him. Instead he wishes to save his family, friends and fans from the up-and-down emotional roller coaster that has seen fellow players and current Hall of Famers communicate publicly to him that they thought this was the year.
“I always shy away from thinking prematurely,” he said calmly.
“Last year the same thing happened when a radio station from Atlanta called to congratulate me beforehand. There are people who are very adamant and passionate about this Hall of Fame stuff. It’s a grueling process on me and everyone else.”
“The frustration has reached a crescendo,” says former teammate and close friend George Martin, who prematurely called Carson this year to congratulate him.
Meanwhile, Joe Horrigan, the Hall of Fame’s Vice President of Communications, says that despite Carson’s intentions his name can not be removed.
However, the 1976 fourth round pick from South Carolina State, feels that since he retired in 1988 his body of work has not changed, and is not sure if he does get selected he won’t have an attitude.
“Give me my flowers while I can still smell them,” he says fondly recalling one of his mother’s sayings.
“They’ve said I’m not good enough and I’ve taken their word… I don’t want to be the Susan Lucci of the NFL Hall of Fame… I don’t want to go in on sympathy.”
From a myopic point of view there are those that feel Carson rode the coattails of first ballot Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor during his 13-year career. However, upon further review, he collected two Pro-Bowl honors before LT arrived in 1981.
Furthermore, many of his colleagues (some who are members of the Hall) say the honor is long overdue.
From coaches Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, Dick Vermeil and Joe Gibbs to former combatants Eric Dickerson, Marcus Allen and Tony Dorsett as well as teammates Taylor, Martin and Phil Simms.
All of that and much more sanctioning from his peers further begs the question regarding the induction procedures.
“If nothing else it is a serious indictment on the process,” says Martin an 11th round choice from Oregon.
“It is flawed. Who the hell are these people doing the deciding.”
In addition to his exemplary career, the former Giant who wore number 53, has always handled himself with considerable class away from the game.
He tirelessly works for worthy causes and is always available to help someone.
For example, he is one of the original members of Minority Athletes Networking ETC, Inc. (MAN-ETC., Inc.). The non-profit organization started in 1989 at the height of the much publicized Central Park Jogger situation is committed to making a difference in the lives of America’s youths.
“He’s very grounded and goes through life as if he’s been here before. He’s been to the White House and various other notable places and maintains an alignment with common people,” said Martin, who is a founding member with former Giants Ron Johnson and Terry Jackson.
He has seamlessly gone from one career to another without many of the pitfalls that others have fallen victim to.
He is currently writing a book on his life after the game. In the interim he plans on writing the NFL requesting the removal of his name from the process.