How a Homeless Man Helped Brandon Carr Get Over Brutal Steelers Game


Veteran cornerback Brandon Carr was quiet after the Ravens' 39-38 loss in Pittsburgh. He was quiet in the locker room after and quiet on the flight home.

That is until he got to his car. After he tossed in his luggage and closed the door, Carr let loose a scream of frustration.

"You could have heard me from Australia. I was going crazy," Carr said on this week's episode of The Lounge podcast.

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown put up 213 yards against the Ravens and 117 of them came versus Carr, including the 34-yarder down the right sideline with 62 seconds left that put the Steelers in range for the game-winning field goal.

But Carr knew he had to bounce back. And he did just that.

Carr came up with what was essentially a game-sealing end zone interception with 11 minutes left in Sunday's 27-10 win in Cleveland. He was stellar in coverage against the Browns' dangerous wideouts.

In the locker room after the game, Head Coach John Harbaugh presented Carr with a game ball.

"This man is a great football player, but for who he is as a person, his character, his confidence, the way he stepped up in this game, the way he played in this game," Harbaugh said as he held the ball aloft.

While the 10-year veteran exudes confidence, it was a mental struggle last week.

After the Pittsburgh game, Carr told reporters he's used to being on an island on the outside. He's been on an island for 10 years, he said. Well, it felt even more lonely that night.

"That game, I felt like, 'Am I the only person out here right now?'" Carr said. "' He is killing me right now! Help me, I can't keep up!'"

It's a helpless and frustrating feeling, and even worse when it leads to a loss. But embarrassment is something Carr had felt before.

Carr, then a Dallas Cowboy, was the player in one-on-one coverage when New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. made his insane one-handed touchdown catch in 2014, which might go down as the best catch in football history. You know the one.

The photo of Beckham's catch – and Carr on the turf in the background – is surely hanging in many thousands of kids' bedrooms. Even Carr's own son still talks about it to this day, much to his father's chagrin.

"That haunted me for a very, very long time," Carr said. "But you learn from your experiences. I'm here now. I don't have the luxury to go into the tank like I did. That tanked me for a while, it just killed my momentum, my confidence.

"Now the situation happened again. This is another test for me. Am I going to pass this test? Am I going to bounce back or let this one game kill me?"

Carr knew the Ravens still had three big games left and, especially with Jimmy Smith (Achilles) on the shelf, Carr had to rebound to help push his team into the playoffs.

But even Carr admitted it took him three days to get over the game in Pittsburgh. Along the way, hee was helped by inspiration from multiple sources.

The first came Monday, the night after the game. Carr was driving to get a milkshake when he saw a homeless man in the parking lot. He typically doesn't do this, but he asked the man, "What's your story?"

The man, Joshua, is a military veteran who has been out of service for eight years and is now on the street. The two sat down for a meal and conversation. Carr was struck by the man's smarts and perspective.

"I told him, 'Man, I'm fighting back tears just talking to you. You are grounding me. You are that person I need because I don't have my wife here, my kids, my mom is no longer around. Everybody is in Texans and I'm here by myself. You, out of all people, are the person that brought me back to life to get me going for this week,'" Carr said.

"This game means a lot to a lot of people, but at the end of the day, it's a game. People go through a lot of things in life that's not a game."

Carr didn't watch the Pittsburgh game film until after Sunday's Cleveland win. He knew how he played and he didn't want to continue to beat himself up over it. His teammates brought more assurance when they told him everybody had plays they wanted back.

Carr got more comfort from Secondary Coach Chris Hewitt. Out of the blue one day, Hewitt asked, "Are you OK?" It wasn't just a benign question to fill the air. It was a question of real concern for Carr's mental well-being.

"Nobody has asked me that before," Carr said. "When people care for you, you give more."

Carr hadn't realized it, but Ravens Senior Advisor to Player Engagement O.J. Brigance had also emailed him last week with words of encouragement, saying he had his eye on him to see how he responded. When Carr read the email Tuesday, two days after beating the Browns, he teared up.

"This was my first real test of adversity away from home in my new surroundings and by myself," said Carr, who signed with Baltimore this offseason. "I think I passed."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content