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Carter throwing away a career

Former Cowboys quarterback is wasting a final shot at pro football

01:09 AM CDT on Saturday, May 19, 2007


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Quincy Carter is a 29-year-old with dreams of reviving an NFL career that will never happen – no matter how much he deludes himself.

It saddens me to write that because I like Carter. We didn't have the kind of relationship where we met for drinks regularly or communicated by phone, e-mail or text message once a week. Or even once a month.

I've never been to his home or ridden in his car, but we've shared a few meals at his favorite Addison restaurant over the years. We've talked often since the Cowboys released him, though not since December, in part because his phone number usually changes every couple of weeks.

So when he signed with the Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings of arenafootball2, I viewed it as a positive. To me, it showed he was so serious about resurrecting his pro career that he was willing to humble himself and go to professional football's lowest level, playing for $200 a week – $250, if his team won.

As usual, he screwed up.

That's what he does. Time after time after time. I shouldn't have been surprised.

This week, Bossier coach Jon Norris suspended Carter for two games, including Friday night's game against Manchester, for missing position meetings earlier this week.

Ridiculous.

It's been just a few years since Carter entered training camp as the Cowboys' starting quarterback after leading them to a 10-6 record and their first playoff appearance in three seasons.

Less than a week later, the Cowboys released him.

We all know the Cowboys cut him because he violated the league's substance-abuse policy, though the team denied it. Carter has since admitted he had used marijuana.

The New York Jets signed him, and he helped them make the playoffs by winning two of three starts while Chad Pennington recovered from a rotator cuff injury. But he abandoned the team under mysterious circumstances during the playoffs and the Jets chose not to re-sign him.

Then came a training camp stint with Montreal of the Canadian Football League that lasted only a few weeks before this opportunity with the Battle Wings.

I never figured Carter would play in the NFL again, but I thought he might play well enough for the Battle Wings to land a job as a starter in the Arena League. That would allow him to stay close to the game he loves, make about $100,000 and, perhaps, eventually use the off-season to give motivational speeches about how to regroup after life knocks you on your butt.

He certainly would've had a story to tell.

But if you can't be responsible at football's lowest level, how could any AFL or NFL team trust you with its franchise?

Quincy Carter led the Cowboys to a playoff appearance in the 2003 season. He was suspended this week for two games by the Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings of arenafootball2.
MICHAEL MULVEY / DMN
Quincy Carter led the Cowboys to a 10-6 record and a playoff appearance in the 2003 season.

See, quarterback isn't like any other position. The quarterback, usually the face of the franchise, is the most important position on any football team because the ball is in his hands every play and he makes most of the decisions that win and lose games.

The reason no team in the NFL wanted to sign Carter is because he's in the fine portion of the NFL's substance-abuse program, which means the next incident would've resulted in a four-game suspension.

Can you imagine having a starting quarterback getting suspended for violating the substance-abuse policy in November as the season's stretch run is starting? It would wreck the franchise. No team wants to put its trust in a player like that.

Think about all of the NFL players arrested or charged with marijuana possession or DUI over the last several years; few involve quarterbacks. Most of them understand their importance to the organization, so they make it a point not to be put in compromising positions.

Carter's problem has always been trust.

He never really trusted Jerry Jones. Or Bill Parcells. Or any offensive coordinator or quarterbacks coach with the Cowboys.

When Dallas signed Chad Hutchinson or Drew Henson, he never believed there would be a fair competition for the starting job. He always thought the organization was trying to replace him.

Nothing could've been further from the truth.

No one wanted him to succeed more than Jones, who drafted him in the second round, when he should've been picked in the fourth.

More important, Carter never trusted his ability.

He could talk a good game. He'd tell you about his arm strength and accuracy and athleticism, but he folded every time there was competition, an indication he didn't truly believe in himself.

That's too bad because whether Carter became a star or not, he easily had the talent to play in the NFL for 10 to 12 years and create financial security for life.

Don't laugh.

Lots of marginal quarterbacks such as current Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett stuck around the league for years with a lot less athletic ability than Carter because they prepared diligently and made themselves assets even though they didn't play much.

Instead, Carter's professional football career is essentially over. He has only himself to blame.

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