10 Questions With Brandon Carr

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1. You’ve started 162 straight NFL games and earned the nickname, “Iron Horse,” along the way. But were you an “Iron Horse” your entire life?

“I’ve done it all. I’ve been hit in the head with baseballs, baseball bats, golf clubs, a van trunk, run into glass doors, run into telephone poles. Everything has happened to me. I guess I’m just tough. I’m the youngest of all my cousins at home; five of us would play and grew up pretty tight. I always grew up the baby, always having to fend for myself and having to be strong. In high school, I played with torn hamstrings. I’ve never missed a game from injury.”

2. Ever go to the hospital?

“I went to the hospital back in the day when I stuck a tube up my mouth when I was 4 or 5. Everybody was freaking out. I broke a little bone in my hand in training camp in [2015] in Dallas. That put me out a couple games in the preseason and I was ready for the season. I do hurt, though. I have injuries. I just feel like I’ve been fortunate not to get the big ones. I hate seeing my name going across the screen on who didn’t practice today. I don’t like to show any weakness to my opposition.”

3. Do you really see that as showing weakness to your opponent?

“Yeah, even in a game, if I’m hurting, I’ll grunt but I’ll do it where they can’t hear me. I’ll go back to the huddle and they’ll be like, ‘Man, are you hurting?’ I just don’t like to show that stuff. If I’m available and can give you something, I’m going to do it for those three hours.”

4. What is the toughest part of playing cornerback in the NFL?

“The new rules. Can’t touch them. Eleven years ago, there was a little bit more contact. You could play the receiver better, hitting them and stuff. It’s witness protection now, man. You can’t touch them. They’re made men out there. You can’t do anything.”

5. Do you think the rules have led to a lot more offense?

“I felt that way maybe six years ago. At the same time, the big, heavy-hitting safeties became kind of extinct in the league and it’s more smaller cover guys because they started throwing the ball 30, 40, 50 times. At one point, 50 was like, ‘Wow.’ Now 50 is like, ‘OK, they’re throwing the ball.’ This is a passing league.”

6. Who’s the best wide receiver you ever covered?

“Steve Smith. I had him when I was a rookie, I had him when I got to Dallas and I had him again when ya’ll played us two years ago in Dallas. Performance-wise, he’s a different guy as far as speed. But if I was ever to coach receivers one day, I would encourage them to take his mentality. He’s bi-polar. One play he’s cool with you and next play he’s coming to cut you. He would catch a pass, stiff-arm you and then come back and be cool with you. He keeps you off-balance. I learned from him. He taught me to always be on my toes, ready to go. Me and Brandon Marshall have always battled since I was a baby in this league. And Odell Beckham, he’s pretty talented. If you let him get going, he can hurt you. I’ve seen that a few times.”

7. It’s hard to become an NFL starter, let alone start 162 straight games. Do you feel like you’ve been underappreciated over your NFL career too?

“I feel that way sometimes, but I don’t allow myself to harp on it too much because I have a lot more work to do. I just want to do things to put myself in position to not only keep my job but to excel at this high level. People take it for granted. They think it’s so easy to step onto the field and do the things we do. We make it look easy; that’s the crazy part. But for 11 years, to play at this level, I’ve seen a lot of players come and go who came before and after me. That’s a motivating factor for me though. I don’t want to say to prove people wrong, but just use the fuel. If you’re going to give me fuel, I’m going to use it.”

8. When the time comes that you’re told you’re not starting, how are you going to react to it?

“I’ve been trying to prepare myself. I’ve been asking myself, ‘What does that streak mean to you at this point?’ I try not to get too attached to things in life. My job is to fight to keep my job. When I’m doing that, I feel like I’m elevating my teammates around me. But it’s also my job to get my successor ready. Once I step down, or he steps in, I hope he can take things and run with it. It’s the way Patrick Surtain mentored me and it happened faster. It was only the second game that he went down and I was inserted as the permanent starter. My foundation was laid when I came into the league by veterans who looked out for me, so I have to give back. In Green Bay last year, I wasn’t doing so hot. Marlon [Humphrey] got a series and he was looking good. I felt like it was necessary for him to stay in and get work with our starters. He got a pick and I sprinted down to the end zone; I was so excited. I’m realistic. I don’t have any pride issues at this point. The clock is ticking and I just want to win. I want to experience a deep playoff run and a Super Bowl before this thing is over. I won championships from high school to college. Now I’ve got to do it here. I want to get that ring, say ‘See you later!’ and let my body finally relax.”

9. You’re from Flint, Mich., and went to Grand Valley State. How does coming from a small school put a chip on your shoulder?

“My whole life I’ve been the underdog. I was always the smallest. I always felt like I didn’t get the recognition I deserved. So that just motivated me to work harder. I think it’s a good thing the route that was chosen for me. Coming from a small school, always being the second or third guy as far as conversation, made me work harder and allowed me to appreciate things more, the success. Everything good that has come my way, I know how I got there. I made lemonade with lemons, so to speak. When the camera is rolling, I’m always representing my journey.”

10. How much do you pay attention to the Flint water crisis?

“I think about it all the time because when I go back to do my due diligence to find out what’s going on, the conversations and the tones tell me it’s going to be an ongoing process. It’s going to be years. In this country, things happen all the time. There’s always current events popping up. I knew that at some point, this wouldn’t be the current event and it would be forgotten about even though people are still in need. At some point, I knew all the water donations and the money was going to go away and there was going to be a city left to repair itself. That was my biggest concern, which is happening now. It’s just sad, because I always try to paint a good picture about my city after I get the yucky stuff out. But at the end of the day, it is what it is. I go back less because many of my people have migrated to different places in the country. But it’s tough going back and seeing some of my family and seeing the city and parts where I grew up that were vibrant no longer exist, neighborhoods are gone and boarded up, schools are closed. But I know where I got it from. When I go back, I’m always reminded of where I come from. We’re resilient, blue-collar people. That’s the grit that’s going to get us through this. But I feel like it’s going to be a good decade battling and trying to find solutions to this problem.”

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