As the older brother of current Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr as well as the nephew of former 49ers tight end Lon Boyett, there’s no denying David Carr’s NFL pedigree.
Given the fact that he was the number one overall pick in the 2002 NFL draft, hopes were high that David Carr would one day become a superstar.
However, while Carr was able to enjoy some degree of staying power in the league, his NFL career never quite panned out like many hoped it would.
We’ll take a look at David Carr’s early life, his impressive college achievements, why he struggled to succeed at the professional level, and what he is doing today.
David Carr’s Early Life
David Carr grew up in Fresno, CA where he attended Clovis Unified’s Kastner Intermediate School.
During his middle school years, Carr began playing quarterback for Clovis Unified’s Kastner’s football team.
Right from the start, Carr’s natural abilities at the position were put on full display.
As the quarterback of the Clovis Unified’s Kastner Thunderbirds, Carr went on to shatter numerous California D-I middle school records.
After his family moved to Bakersfield, CA, Carr began attending Stockdale High School.
There, he began playing quarterback for the Stockdale Mustangs.
Once again, he excelled at the position, lighting up opposing defenses with both his arm and his legs.
After graduating from high school in 1999, Carr decided to continue playing football at the college level.
QB1 for the Fresno State Bulldogs
In spite of the fact that David Carr was heavily recruited by major schools all across the West Coast, his heart belonged to Fresno State.
Growing up, David Carr and his family were all fans of the Fresno State Bulldogs, and Carr had attended several of their games as a child.
In the end, he decided to forgo the opportunity to play for a major program and decided instead to sign with the school that he had grown up supporting.
That same year, Carr married his high school sweetheart, Melody Tipton.
It turned out to be a great decision for Carr and an even better decision for the Fresno State Bulldogs.
After redshirting his freshman year in 1999, Carr became the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback for the 2000 season.
In his debut season as a college starter, Carr completed 194 of 316 passes for a total of 2,338 yards and 18 touchdowns.
However, he also threw 11 interceptions and was only able to lead Fresno State to a 7-5 record at the season’s end.
Nevertheless, Carr and his Fresno State team were undeterred.
And the 2001 season turned out to hold much brighter things in store for both Carr and his teammates.
Now in his second year as a starter, Carr took a major leap forward in the 2001 season.
He completed 344 passes on 533 attempts, recording a staggering total of 4,839 yards and 46 touchdowns.
Just as important, Carr started protecting the ball better his junior year as well, throwing two fewer interceptions than the season before on almost twice as many pass attempts.
He also led the Bulldogs to an 11-3 final record that included wins over Wisconsin, Colorado, and Oregon.
During the 2001 season, the Bulldogs reached a rank as high as #8 in the AP poll and were on the verge of being the first non-BCS team to ever receive an invite to a BCS bowl.
After suffering a couple of late-season losses, the Bulldogs watched this opportunity slip away.
At the time, though, for a mid-major program such as Fresno State to even be in the conversation for a BCS bowl invitation was a major disruption to the status quo.
In 2005, the Utah Utes became the first mid-major program to accomplish this feat after playing and defeating the Pittsburgh Panthers in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl.
Later, Boise State, TCU, UCF, and others all took up the mantle of BCS busters.
However, some degree of credit goes to Carr and the Fresno State Bulldogs for introducing to the world the idea that a mid-major program could compete on the largest of stages.
Following his junior campaign, David Carr decided to opt-out of his senior season and declare for the NFL draft.
In spite of only playing for Fresno State for two years, Carr cemented his legacy as a Bulldogs legend.
In 2007, the Bulldogs decided to honor Carr by retiring the #8 jersey that he wore.
The Number One Overall Pick In The 2002 NFL Draft
The 2002 NFL draft was the very first draft for the Houston Texans after they were added to the league as an expansion team.
After being awarded the number one overall pick, the Texans decided to spend their most valuable draft capital on a pick they hoped would become a franchise quarterback.
At the time, the two players considered to be the best prospects at the quarterback position were Carr from Fresno State and Joey Harrington from Oregon.
Ultimately, the Texans decided to choose Carr with their number one overall pick, and Harrington was picked up by the Detroit Lions with the number three overall pick.
— NFL Stats (@NFL_Stats) April 20, 2021
While most NFL players tend to splurge the moment they receive their signing bonus, Carr recalls a funny story of a very ordinary purchase that he made with the first $14 million that the Texans gave him after choosing him in the draft.
“We [Carr and his wife Melody] had already bought a beautiful home in Houston, but we had nothing in it,”
David Carr said in an interview with NFL.com.
“I remember eating pizza while sitting on the floor with my wife, so the first thing we did was buy a couch and a TV. Then we paid the house off.
“It’s very tempting to go out and blow it. Fortunately, I had a great support system, and my dad would’ve kicked my butt if I spent it recklessly. My signing bonus was around $14 million, and I told my dad that maybe I should cash it. He said laughing, ‘You’re going to cash this? Where do you plan on putting that when you walk out of the bank?’
“Having that much money in a matter of seconds was like winning the lottery, I’d imagine. There’s no other way to equate it. It kind of feels like you have Monopoly money. One hard thing is, you feel like you have to spend it, because you’re around all your teammates who are spending their money. It’s an interesting dynamic, and you have to keep your head on straight. Otherwise, you’re going to end up on ‘Broke 2.'”
While he was able to make great off-the-field decisions, Carr struggled his first year in the NFL.
In the 2002 season, Carr set a couple of NFL records that no quarterback wants to set.
After being sacked 76 times, Carr set a record for the most times that one quarterback has ever been sacked in a single season.
DE Travis LaBoy sacks the Jets QB Chad Pennington 12/23/07 and sacks Texans QB David Carr 10/9/05 pic.twitter.com/iZjk1dng4R
— 🏈TitansFanatic🏈 (@titanfan8) July 21, 2020
He also set a record for the most fumble recoveries in a single season – a great record to set for a defensive player but not such as great record for a quarterback to hold since all 12 of the fumbles that Carr recovered in the 2002 season were his own.
As of 2021, both of these records have still yet to be broken.
In their first year as an NFL team, the Houston Texans finished 4-12.
Carr finished the year with 2,592 passing yards, 9 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions.
Although Carr was only sacked 15 times the next year, his performance didn’t really improve in the 2003 season.
Once again, he finished the year with more interceptions than touchdowns, throwing 13 interceptions against 9 TDs.
Carr’s struggle to protect the football continued to haunt him throughout the 2004, 2005, and 2006 seasons.
Following the 2006 season – a season in which Carr through 12 interceptions, lost 7 fumbles, and was sacked 41 times – the Texans’ new GM decided that the team needed a change of pace.
They brought in Matt Schaub from the Atlanta Falcons, and Carr was released from the team.
After a brief stint as a free agent, Carr signed with the Carolina Panthers in 2007 and was thrust into the starting position after Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme suffered an injury.
In the six games he played in during the Panthers’ 2007 campaign, Carr threw five more interceptions and just three touchdowns.
During the fifth game of the 2007 season, Carr suffered a back injury and saw very little playing time for the remainder of the year.
Following the 2007 season, he was released from the team.
In 2008, David Carr agreed to a one-year contract with the New York Giants to serve as a backup for Eli Manning.
He was resigned for the 2009 season but ultimately cut from the team in 2010.
Carr went on to play for the 49ers one year during the 2010 season but was cut from that team as well in 2011.
He then returned to the New York Giants in 2011, where he won a Super Bowl ring as Eli Manning’s backup.
However, Carr did not take a single snap for the Giants that season.
He was signed for one more year before being waived in 2013.
Following his second departure from the Giants, Carr made the decision to retire from professional football.
David Carr’s Post-Football Life
After leaving the NFL, Carr decided to focus on helping others succeed at the sport that defined his life.
In 2015, he became the new offensive coordinator for Bakersfield Christian High School, working under his younger brother Darren Carr who happened to be the team’s head coach.
Carr’s other younger brother – current Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr – also credits David Carr for helping prepare him for the NFL.
Despite being ranked by NESN as the eighth-worst overall number one pick in NFL draft history, Carr was able to leverage his time in the NFL and the money he earned to build a very nice life for himself.
He currently lives with his wife and six children and, since 2016, has worked as an analyst for the NFL Network.
His inability to protect the football and avoid taking sacks ultimately derailed David Carr’s NFL career.
Nevertheless, with a Super Bowl ring in his possession (even if it is one he earned as a backup) a lovely family, and millions in the bank, Carr can’t be too disappointed with the way his career turned out.