Programming note: The "Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards" -- featuring Bay Area stars Stephen Vogt, Stephen Curry, Hunter Pence, Derek Carr, Torrey Smith and Tara VanDerveer -- will air on Jan. 31 at 7:30pm on CSN Bay Area and at 11pm on CSN California.
David and Derek Carr were born roughly 12 years apart. That’s a huge gap, a generational divide that could strain the bonds of brotherhood. In this case, football made them stronger than oak.
Derek wanted to be an NFL quarterback when he grew up. David was a living, breathing example of how to realize that dream.
“David was successful in high school and college and made it to the pros,” family patriarch Rodger Carr said. “There was no better example of what to do than someone who lived it. I would simply point to David tell Derek, ‘There’s your blueprint.’”
David wasn’t just a leader by example. He took great interest in Derek’s ambitions, and taught a master class in becoming a top-flight quarterback. David blazed that trail, parlaying an excellent Fresno State career into status as 2002’s No. 1 overall draft pick. He was chosen by the Houston Texans, and played a decade in the NFL.
“David was Derek’s idol,” Rodger Carr said. “Derek felt like he lived in a house with Peyton Manning. Even at an early age, Derek was fully committed to following in his brother’s footsteps. I think he knew the golden opportunity he had to learn from David and took full advantage of it. He had the drive, and David was more than willing to teach him.”
Stories of David’s lessons have been well documented. We know that David used to let Derek watch NFL game tape at age 12. David would help Derek break down opponents when younger brother was in high school, and review sessions after games. Derek would throw on the side after Texans practice, often with All-Pro Andre Johnson as his receiver.
Derek Carr grew up with advantages others would only dream of, and he used those tools to maximize immense talent. Derek rose through the ranks from preps to a standout career at Fresno State that prompted the Raiders to draft him No. 36 overall in the 2014 draft. Carr found rookie success, but took a greater leap in his second season that ended up with him in the Pro Bowl.
Derek Carr is thankful for his lot and all the help David afforded along the way, but older brother gave him one thing more valuable than anything else.
“The greatest gift David gave me was confidence,” Derek Carr said. “He always involved his little brother, and made sure I believed in myself and what I could become. I was always around people his age, and that can be intimidating unless you’re used to it. I grew up really fast. I was not scared of anything. No situation was too big for me because the confidence was instilled.”
That confidence was built, and became the foundation for Derek’s success as a player and a leader of men.
“He would force me to take charge, even when I was playing with pickup games with guys so much older than me,” Derek Carr said. “He would simply say, ‘Tell them what you want.’ That’s required of a quarterback, of a leader. I got used to doing that at an early age because he taught me what was required to earn respect.
“He would watch the decisions I made, ask me about them and force me to think critically about my choices. His key was always to do it in a positive way. That was a learning process for me, and now I feel comfortable and confident in my ability to get through to any type of personality. I’m definitely in debt to him for those life lessons.”
David Carr was hands-on for most of Derek’s development, but he has taken a huge step back these days. David will answer questions but not offer advice, trusting that Derek is well prepared for whatever comes next in his professional career.
“The progression changed from him being a teacher to a counselor and now he’s like my Yoda,” Derek Carr said. “All joking aside, I really am thankful for everything David did to help me realize my dream of playing football at the highest level.”