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Oakland Raiders quarterback Carr uses football as platform to give God glorycomment (0)

June 12, 2014

By Bill Sorrell

Oakland Raiders quarterback Carr uses football as platform to give God glory

The greatest hope for Derek Carr was not about when his name would be called in the 2014 NFL Draft.

“My greatest hope in Jesus is that He returns soon. I kind of want to be around when He does return. That would be amazing to experience. Either way it is going to be great,” said Carr, the California State University in Fresno quarterback who did get the NFL call during the May 8 draft.

The Oakland Raiders selected Carr in the second round as the 36th pick overall.

Before his record-setting senior year at Fresno State that vaulted him into top-quarterback draft status, he said his NFL goal was to be “very successful” for whichever team drafted him and “to get my faith out there.

“My faith is what keeps me going. All the pain and suffering that Jesus went through (at the cross); He still kept going. I think I would (do) God a disservice if I didn’t go work harder than anyone else with the blessings and talents He has given me,” Carr said.

“When I hear the word ‘Jesus,’ I think that He is my Savior. God sent Him to this earth to die for all of us and to rise again; that is the best part. Football is a great platform. That is the sole reason why I want to be the best quarterback who has ever played. The reason I play football, I do it all for God and for all His glory.” 

In 2013, Carr led the nation in passing yards (5,083) and passing touchdowns (50). He won the Sammy Baugh trophy given to the nation’s top passer and was one of 19 quarterbacks in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) history to throw for more than 10,000 career yards and 100 touchdowns. He finished with 12,843 career yards and 113 touchdowns. His 659 pass attempts were second in the NCAA and first in the Mountain West Conference.

Offensive Player of the Year

Named the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year in 2012 and 2013, Carr was the first player in league history to win it back-to-back.

Carr led the nation in total offense (5,199 yards), passing yards per game (390.9), completions per game (34.85), touchdowns responsible for (52), total points responsible for (302) and per-game points (24). His 113 career touchdown passes to 24 interceptions were the second highest in FBS history with at least 100 career touchdown passes.

Carr became the Bulldog’s all-time passing leader and was chosen All-America as a junior and senior. “Having that tag to your name is pretty neat,” said Carr, who has run the 40 in 4.56 seconds and played in the Senior Bowl in Mobile.

Role models

Finishing eighth in votes for the 2013 Heisman Trophy, Derek Carr wanted to win it for his brother, David.

“I think he should have won it his senior year,” said Carr, who was recruited by “a lot of big-time schools.” The moment he chose Fresno State was when he watched his brother, who also played college football, get sacked at the end of a game against Boise State University in Idaho. The Bulldogs were ranked eighth in the nation. The loss dashed Bowl Championship Series hopes despite an 11–3 record.

“I was 11 years old. From then on I am going to come here and finish what he started,” said Carr, who got letters from 121 schools, including the University of Alabama and Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. “I was always wanting to be like (my brother). He paved the way.”

Carr’s brother also paved the way spiritually as well as his older brother, Darren, his father, Roger, and mother, Sheryl. “They are definitely my role models in how to live life. They walk the walk,” he said.

While Carr grew up in a Christian home in Bakersfield, Calif., he did not take faith as his own until he was in college. “Then I really began my own walk, not just what my family was doing. I started making that my priority.”

A spiritual turning point came while he was dating Heather Neel, whom he met in Fresno. She wrote him a 10-page letter telling him he was not the person she thought he was. Carr got on his knees, cried and prayed all night.

“At that moment I really felt like God (was) taking over and I felt like I was giving it to Him.”

They were married June 28, 2012. Their son, Dallas, was born Aug. 5, 2013. 

At age 7, Carr was baptized by his grandfather, David Joyner, a Bakersfield pastor for 35 years. Before his grandfather died when Carr was a senior in high school, he couldn’t communicate well with his family but he communicated Jeremiah 29:11.

“He was like our family rock; he held us together. Since then it has stuck with me. I try my very best to always be putting good things into my head. A couple of years ago I got rid of all my old music. I am starting over with all Christian music. I think there is power in music, especially [nowadays]. It gets kind of deceptive. I think what goes into your mind is going to come out.

Carr and his wife attend New Covenant Church, Fresno, and he enjoys sharing his faith with young kids. Speaking at a school in the mountains around Fresno, he was surprised when he was told that the only time students might hear the gospel would be from him. He also is involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Football is third in his list of priorities, following faith and family.

Fresno State teammate, wide receiver Davante Adams, was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the second round and 58th overall. He said Carr “makes a conscious effort to make God his No. 1 priority and in doing so, he leads with his voice as well as by example, which is my opinion the most important aspect of leadership.”

Carr said, “I want to be a good Christian leader that people can rely on when the going gets tough and try to be the same person in the good and the bad and not try to overreact in bad things or get too excited for the good. ... I have no problems challenging people, but I will never rip them. I know I am going to make a mistake. I wouldn’t want them yelling at me. I try to treat them like I want to be treated.”

‘Total package’

Fresno State head football coach Tim DeRuyter called Carr “the exact portrait of what you are looking for. Having been a football coach for 24 years, I’ve been around a number of young men who have outstanding character and leadership traits. Derek is probably at the top of the list of guys when it comes to the total package of faith, character and leadership. He is a young man who every single day brings those qualities to the table. As much individual talent as he has, it’s always about the team.”

One of five captains while at Fresno State, Carr said he genuinely cares about and loves each teammate. “I try and trust a lot of people and love a lot of people. I have learned to be patient. I have seen people treat me differently, not in a bad way. I don’t cuss. When they do, they apologize. They tell me ‘I wish I had what you have,’ and that is the perfect opportunity for me to tell them they can.”

Carr wore number 4 at Fresno State in tribute to Brett Favre, the Green Bay Packer’s legendary quarterback. “He took risks in the way he played because of his self-confidence and confidence in the team,” Carr said.

Basketball is Carr’s other favorite sport, and Kobe Bryant was his favorite player growing up because of the way Bryant competes and prepares for games. 

Academically Carr earned All-America honors. He was named second team Academic All-America by Capitol One. He had a 3.47 GPA with a major in administration and leisure service management. 

He was named the 2013 National Scholar-Athlete from the National Football Foundation. The award gave Carr  an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship that he may use for possible study at a seminary.

DeRuyter said, “He lives his faith every day and is not afraid to take a stand and to do things the right way. If you could pick anybody and draw what you want to have as a high-character leader for your team, it would be Derek Carr.”

Carr said, “I want to keep growing in my faith. I know the only reason why I am able to do anything is because of God’s grace. I want to continue to play football and try to do it at the highest level and continue to minister to people through the platform of football. That is my ministry.”

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