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Home | SportsMakers | Harry Carson
Color: Blue
Food: Fried Chicken, Potato Salad
Quote: N/A
Season: Spring
Vacation Destination: Hawaii, Antigua
Florence, South Carolina
Interview Description:

Biography |

Interview Date: 9/1/2016

Football player Harry Carson was born on November 26, 1953 in Florence, South Carolina to Gladys Carson. The youngest of six children, he attended Holmes Elementary School in Florence, before his mother moved to Newark, New Jersey to work as a domestic servant. Carson spent his summers in Newark, and was there during the 1967 Newark riots. He started high school at Wilson High School in Florence, where he began playing football as a defensive end during his sophomore year, later joining the Air Force Junior ROTC. After Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education, in 1969, mandated immediate desegregation in the South, Carson moved to the integrated McClenaghan High School, where he became the starting defensive end and president of his senior class, but eventually quit the football team due to disrespect from his white coach. He attended South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, where he was a four-year starter as a defensive lineman, and helped set a college football record for fewest points allowed in 1974 under Coach Willie Jeffries. Carson graduated from South Carolina State University in 1976 with a B.S. degree in education.

In 1976, Carson was drafted by the New York Giants in the fourth round of the NFL draft. Under the tutelage of defensive coordinator Marty Schottenheimer, Carson was trained to play middle linebacker, which became his position for the remainder of his professional career. He was named to the NFL’s All-Rookie Team in 1976, and was selected for his first Pro Bowl appearance in 1978, the first of nine in his career. As the physical and mental stresses of the NFL mounted, Carson considered retiring from football, and began to battle depression and thoughts of suicide by the early 1980s. Under Bill Parcells, who became head coach in 1983, the Giants improved, making the playoffs in 1984 and 1985. During the 1986 season, when the Giants had a league-leading 14-2 record, Carson popularized the tradition of dousing a football coach with Gatorade after a win. He was the team captain for the Giants team that won Super Bowl XXI in 1987, defeating the Denver Broncos, and retired from professional football in 1988.

Carson was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome in 1990, as a result of the head trauma he suffered during his NFL career. He became a leading voice in speaking out for the rights and proper care of retired NFL players who suffer from diseases such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), publishing his autobiography, Captain for Life, and appearing in the documentary League of Denial. He is active in healthcare organizations like Meridian Neuroscience Health System Inc., the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, and the Aplastic Anemia Foundation. Carson was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

Harry Carson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 1, 2016.

Speaker Bureau Notes: