On Saturday Brandon Carr's friend committed suicide. On Sunday Brandon Carr was beaten for a touchdown pass by Riley Cooper.
On Tuesday Brandon Carr proved why the Dallas Cowboys signed him as a free agent last spring.
He promised to improve. He fought back tears. He talked honestly. He gave generously.
At the kickoff event for his Carr Cares Foundation, the $50 million cornerback agreed he wasn't playing great football and admitted to struggling with the death of former Kansas City Chiefs teammate Jovan Belcher, all while putting on a happy face.
"Since I first got into the league I've wanted to do something to help kids," Carr said before his red-carpet event at Addison Motorcars. "If my foundation can help just one little boy or girl with their education or fitness, then this will all be worth it. I know I can't help them all, but I'm going to do what I can."
And with that, Carr launched his foundation aimed at aiding children in Dallas and back home in Flint, Michigan. The event wasn't a fundraiser, but more of a pre-emptive thank you. He paid for the entire shindig – food, live band, champagne, the works – out of his own pocket.
At one point Carr was introduced to another NFL cornerback who likewise entered the league with long odds.
"You can tell he's got the size and skill and instincts to be a great corner," said Larry Brown, MVP of Super Bowl XXX for the Cowboys, "but I also love how grounded he is. He's got great perspective for a guy that's really just getting started."
While Brown was drafted in the 12th and final round (320th overall) out of TCU by Dallas in '91, Carr also slipped into the NFL sans fanfare. The Chiefs drafted him in the 5th round in '08, out of Division 2 Grand Valley State in Michigan.
He hasn't missed a start in the NFL, going 76-for-76.
Needing to rebuild a shabby secondary, the Cowboys signed Carr last March to a 5-year, $50 million contract with $26 million guaranteed. Let's be honest, on the field he's been a disappointment. He's been sticky in press coverage, but has allowed garden-variety receivers too much room in space and has yet to display the eye-popping catch-up speed we anticipated.
With injuries to Barry Church and Mike Jenkins, Carr has – it should be noted – not missed a play and even lined up at safety in multiple games.
But he was burned by the Robert Griffin and the Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving and gave up the early touchdown pass against the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday night. Come Sunday he'll be matched up against the Cincinnati Bengals' A.J. Green, who leads the NFL with 10 receiving TDs.
"I guess I'll give myself a C," Carr said in assessing his play. "I've got to be better. We're in a playoff race and I know it's up to me to make some plays. I need to play better, and I will."
Carr's signature play came a month ago in Philly, when he deflected a pass, caught a quirky carom and raced 47 yards for the first touchdown of his NFL career. His best move, however, came this week with the launch of his foundation. Surrounded by his parents, brother, agent and fiancée Tori, Carr has the foresight – at 26 – to already be contemplating his legacy.
"Nobody plays in the NFL forever, or for very long to be honest," he said. "This foundation will be something I can be involved in and be proud of after my playing days are done."
Carr was all smiles Tuesday night. Despite his underwhelming play. And despite his heavy heart.
He played 3 years in the Kansas City defensive huddle with Jovan Belcher, who fatally shot his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, and then himself Saturday morning.
"It's devastating to me, personally," said Carr, fighting back the tears. "I played and bled and sweated and won and lost with Javon. I knew Kasandra very well. For something like that to happen, I just … It's tough. It kind of reminds you what is important in life."
Brandon Carr will play better football.
But, evidenced by his new foundation, he's already pretty damn good at life.
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