Colts Alumni Q&A: WR Roger Carr

Todd Taylor interviewed former All-Pro Colts receiver Roger Carr and asked him about a wide variety of topics. Find out what he had to say about Marvin Harrison, the team's incredible one-year turnaround in the mid-70s, and much more in this exclusive interview.

Todd Taylor: After your very successful college career when you won two national championships with Louisiana Tech, what was your feeling being drafted by a franchise that was struggling in the, so to speak, "post-Unitas era?"

Roger Carr: Well, it was (struggling) – but there was so much tradition with the Baltimore Colts. Of course, Bert Jones had been picked the year before and (general manager) Joe Thomas had a reputation for turning teams around. To be honest with you I was just thrilled to get to play, and play for the Baltimore Colts where people, like you mentioned, Johnny Unitas, Ramond Berry, and Artie Donovan – all those guys that my father-in-law knew well because the Baltimore Colts were his favorite team when he was growing up. So just being able to play in the NFL, being a first round draft pick, to be able to play with Bert Jones and the Baltimore Colts – I was thrilled with that.

TT: Following your rookie season, the Colts quickly transformed into a contender. What did you think were some of the reasons for that?

RC: As I mentioned, I thought we had a pretty astute fella in Joe Thomas. He was able to spot some talent, began to make some picks and bring some talent in. I think that's what turned it around. We were 2-12 and went to 10-4 and at that time it was the biggest (one-year) turnaround there had been in the NFL. It was obvious we had some talent and some young players coming in to develop, it was just a matter of those young players maturing. And of course (head coach) Ted Marchibroda came in a little bit later and put a system to it. But there was talent in place and I think some of that credit needs to go to Joe Thomas. And some of the folks there that were instrumental in those selections at that time.

TT: A couple years following that season, the Colts were no longer among the league's elite and your team struggled for some time. Did that become frustrating, finding that success, and then going back to where the team was when you started there?

RC: Well it did, and I think there were a couple reasons for that. Number one was injuries playing a big part of that and the lack of facilities. We were always moving from one place to another. That was before the day in which teams built training camps and facilities for the players to use. I can remember going to or playing on rented fields. And then we had some injuries that came along and there were disruptions with the ownership, some different things. There were some problems and then we went through some coaches at that time, so there were some struggles. But you know, adversity rears its head in anything we do and it's how you go about handling that adversity. We struggled, but we learned a lot of things through that.  So I guess when you look back you're just thankful for the years that you had that were successful, and then the years that you didn't, you learned a lot from it -- and it helps down the road in our particular careers or where we went after that.

TT: When you did depart from the Colts, maybe you weren't seeing eye-to-eye with the Colts, I don't know if that is something you want to get into – also, what was it like playing for another team so late in your career?

RC: I think that I made some mistakes, I really do. I handled some things very poorly. I was very fortunate to be able to be picked by the Baltimore Colts as the number one pick, to be in the Pro-Bowl, to have the years I had there which was eight, to room with Bert Jones – just to have that chemistry we had there. I handled some things very poorly in the fact that Bert had been traded and we'd gone through numerous coaches, and of course the Colts eventually moved. I could blame all those things on management and me not seeing eye-to-eye, but the fact of the matter is that I was blessed to be picked by the Irsays and the Baltimore Colts and I'll always be thankful for that. And if I had it to do over again, I would handle those situations different. And I think there are some benefits of going to a team and being drafted by a team, staying with that team and finishing a career there – that's unusual. So if I were to do that again today I would do things a little different.

TT: Do you remember your reaction when you heard the Colts were moving to Indianapolis?

RC: Yes, I was a little bit disappointed. I was always hopeful that the Colts could stay in Baltimore; that their facilities certainly would be upgraded – we needed a new stadium. We needed some things there in Baltimore, but I think there were some faithful people there and I think the Colts had such a rich tradition and I was hoping that they would stay. But of course now you have the Baltimore Ravens and they have a team. So things usually work out if you can have a little patience. But it was disturbing of course, not just to some of us who had played there, but to many of the people who lived there. 

TT: Do you still keep an eye on the Colts and if you do, what make of Marvin Harrison?

RC: Well, he's a great player, let me tell you. He's not a big, big guy, but boy can he get open and catch the ball and he's very smooth. Obviously for the number of receptions and the length of his career he's had to take extremely good care of himself and had good fortune to avoid injuries. And again, the great receivers had great quarterbacks – you can have all the ability in the world and not have the supporting cast and you're not going to shine. He has a Manning to throw him the football and he's got a good place to play and fan support and he's done a wonderful job there in being the go-to-guy.

TT: Your post-NFL career led you back to where you played your college ball, at Louisiana Tech. How did that come about?

RC: Well, I was trying to determine what I wanted to do once my career was over. I never dreamed of being a coach and – to be honest with you – what I wanted to do was get in the NFL, make as much money as I could and get out of it healthy and go onto something else. I think that's a little bit of my short-sightedness there, and I had some wonderful opportunities and probably burned a few bridges in the fact that I could've maybe worked my way into the NFL coaching…because I found out later on that I love to teach young people how to run routes, I love to throw the football. 

I had a wonderful coach when I was in Baltimore...Pete McCulley, who's an ex-Louisiana Tech quarterback. And he would throw me countless balls, as he did to Glenn Doughty, Raymond Chester and all of us. I found out I could throw the football well and teach kids how to run routes and that I enjoyed that. I determined that I wanted to get into the coaching profession, so I went back to Louisiana Tech, finished my degree and got a job there and have been coaching ever since. 

I've been at the junior college level, the high school level, the Division I level and now I'm back at junior college level as a head football coach. So I've been blessed to hopefully have an affect on the lives of young people and I go back to how blessed I've been to have had wonderful coaches help me. Sometimes I didn't give them as much credit, I don't think, as I should have because I didn't realize that would be the profession I was going in. I just didn't realize the scope or the importance or the maturity that a person needs to not only be a player, but when he goes into the coaching part of it to set himself aside and to really devote himself and throw himself into the lives of his players. I've been hired, fired and all those kinds of things that I saw coaches go through when I was with the Colts. It has been a learning experience to say the least.

TT: You had quite a lot of stops on the way to where you are now, from when you were coaching at Louisiana Tech. Do you see this venture at East Mississippi Community College as athletic director and coach somewhere you would like to stay for some time?

RC: I think the good Lord has the answer to that to be honest with you. I think you stay as long as he wants you to stay and you do what he wants you to do. I think you just go everywhere you go and make a home. Everywhere we've been we've bought a home; we've involved ourselves in local churches and tried to make it home for us. So I think that's what I've done and I'm content in the fact that I'm doing what I like to do and I feel like I'm gifted to do.  And you stay as long as long as you're wanted, as long as an opportunity presents itself and then you move on. That's just pretty much the resumes of most of the coaches I've known through the years.

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