Harry Carson’s 13-year stint with the New York Football Giants was one of the longest tenures in club history. The former linebacker played in 173 games and served as Team Captain for 10 of his 13 seasons including the 1986 season when the Giants defeated the Denver Broncos 39-20 in Super Bowl XXI. Once rated the #1 “Inside Linebacker” in NFL history according to Pro Football Weekly, Carson was named to the NFL All-Rookie Team after his first season. Subsequently, during his NFL career, he was named to the All-NFL Team 7 times, the All-NFC Team 8 times, and NFC Linebacker of the Year twice. He once made an amazing 25 tackles in a Monday Night Football Game against the Green Bay Packers. With performances like that he was selected by his peers to play in the NFC-AFC Pro Bowl 9 times. He is among the top 250 players to ever play professional football with his induction as the 231st member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Bill Belichick an assistant coach for the Giants for 12 years considers Carson “the best all-around linebacker” he ever coached!
Carson set the pace for his outstanding career while a student at South Carolina State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education. He continued his graduate studies at South Carolina State and Fairleigh Dickinson University. Before college, Harry Carson attended Wilson Senior High and McClenaghan High Schools in Florence, South Carolina. There he served as Senior Class President, Co-Chairman of the school’s Bi-Racial Committee and ROTC Commander.
While at South Carolina State the two-time Captain never missed a game during his four seasons as a defensive lineman for the Bulldogs. During his college football career, Harry received honors for the Kodak All-American Football Team, NAIA All-American Team, Pittsburgh Courier All-American Team, All-State (South Carolina), All Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and MEAC Defensive Player of the Year twice. He excelled off the field academically as well, winning awards for the highest academic average amongst Black College All-Americans.
Carson has been named to the Sheridan Broadcasting Network 100 Year Anniversary Black College All-American Team. He is a member of the All Division II College Football Team of the Quarter Century (1975-1999) and he has been recognized as the South Carolina College Athlete of the Millennium by The State Newspaper of South Carolina. Harry Carson has also been recognized as a Kentucky Colonel and he has been presented The Order of the Palmetto, the highest honor given to a native of South Carolina.
Some of Carson’s post football careers honors include inductions into:
The Wilson High School Alumni Hall of Fame
The South Carolina State University Athletic Hall of Fame
The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame
The Florence South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame
The South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame
The Sports Hall of Fame of New Jersey
The New Jersey Sportswriter’s Hall of Fame
The Black College Alumni Hall of Fame
The College Football Hall of Fame (Division II)
The College Football Hall of Fame (2002)
The Black College Football Hall of Fame (2012)
New York Football Giants Ring of Honor (2010 – Inaugural Class)
The Professional Football Hall of Fame (2006)
The end of Carson’s professional football career marked the beginning of his career in Sports Broadcasting. Retiring from the NFL after the 1988 season, Carson co-hosted CNN’s NFL Preview, he appeared on WCBS-TV as a Broadcast Analyst and he was a Special Correspondent for playoff and Super Bowl on ABC-TV’s Good Morning America. Carson has worked as a Broadcast Analyst with ABC Sports College Football as well as New York’s Madison Square Garden Network. He is currently a Co-Host of the New York Giants game day magazine program Giants Opening Drive Live.
Carson is CEO and President of Harry Carson Inc. a Sports Consulting and Promotions Company. In that role, his company works with media outlets, educational sources and corporations on sports as well as non-sports related issues. Harry Carson Inc. provides expert television, radio, print media and internet commentary on sports related matters. His company is a provider of former professional athletes to schools and corporations to deliver motivational and inspirational sports theme presentations.
Carson also serves as Executive Director of the Fritz Pollard Alliance. The Alliance is an organization that represents all National Football League Minority Coaches, Coordinators, Scouts, Player Personnel and Game Day Officials dedicated to creating a greater sense of racial and gender diversity in non-player roles within the National Football League.
Carson is the author of 2 books. Point of Attack was published in 1985 by McGraw-Hill, his second and more comprehensive book reflecting on his career and life after football Captain for Life was published by St. Martin’s Press in August 2011.
He is affiliated with many organizations and is involved with numerous charities such as The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, The United Way, The United Way’s Celebrity Read Program, The Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Boys Scouts of America, The Young Father’s Program (at UMDNJ), The Literacy Council of New Jersey, Habitat for Humanity, The Tomorrow’s Children Fund, MANetc, Inc. and The Autism Coalition.
Carson was recognized with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2015. He is an honorary member of Phi Theta Kappa International Society and serves on the Advisory Board of New York University Law School Sports and Society Program.
Mr. Carson has represented the United States as a Special Goodwill Ambassador to France and was appointed by former New Jersey Governor Jim Florio to serve as Executive Director and Chairman of the New Jersey Governor’s Council on Sports and Fitness. Carson has also worked with Bill Clinton, the former President of the United States, on his Teen Anti-Smoking Campaign. He has also been honored by Robert Morgenthau, the former District Attorney of the County of New York for his participation in helping to prevent child abuse in New York City. He has worked with former South Carolina’s Attorney General Travis Medlock’s “Be Drug Free to Succeed” Program.
Utilizing his education background, Harry Carson has long been an advocate on health related issues. He has served as a spokesperson for the Bergen County, New Jersey Cancer Education and Early Detection Program and with the Professional Football Hall of Fame to increase the awareness of prostate cancer among men, especially Asian, Latino and African American Men.
Currently Harry has partnered with Meridian Health System Inc. in the role of spokesperson to increase traumatic brain injury awareness in Ocean and Monmouth counties in New Jersey. His role with MHS includes working with community groups in regard to neurological education promoting prevention, early detection and treatment (if necessary) by the Meridian Neuroscience program. Carson is credited with being one of the very first former professional athletes to draw attention to the association of concussions (mild traumatic brain injuries) with neurological abnormalities in those who have participated in contact sports or have served in the military. In past years he has served as an Advisor to the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and as a member of the Brain Injury Association’s Sports Injury Prevention Council. Former NJ Governor Christine Whitman appointed Carson as a member of the New Jersey Advisory Council on Traumatic Brain Injury. Through education and his own personal experiences he has established himself as an open, extremely honest, very knowledgeable internationally recognized source on Concussions in Sports.
In a “lifetime” effort to “make a difference” in the lives of others, Harry Carson has worked with organizations like the Aplastic Anemia Foundation to help provide scholarships to young people who have battled rare blood disorders much like his son Donald in 2006. He has given his time and energies hosting charity golf tournaments to benefit other “various” causes. From 2006 – 2008 he hosted the Harry Carson Celebrity Golf Tournament benefitting The School Foundation, a charity that supports educational programs in his hometown of Florence, South Carolina. He has also given his time hosting the Rival Golf Challenge in New Jersey benefitting the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation Scholarship Fund.
In 2015 he was presented the Lalia Rach Profile in Excellence Award by New York University Tisch Institute for Sports Management, Media and Business, NYU Sports Business Society and NYU Graduate Sports Business Society. He was also honored with the Children’s Ambassador Award by Wynona’s House Child Advocacy Center as well as a David Award recipient by Networking Magazine that year. Other recognitions include Man of the Year by the Walter Camp Football Foundation in 2012. He was also honored by the Mental Health Association of New York City and he was the recipient of the 2012 MVP Award honoring Lifetime Achievement by the United Way of New York City.
Aside from shining a light on specific health related issues Carson has also been a very strong advocate toward the plight of his National Football League brethren. Instead of focusing on his own career achievements, he used his 2006 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech as an opportunity to highlight the issues of inadequate pensions and the need for improved benefits for retired NFL players.
Carson is a lecturer and motivational speaker to diverse groups that range from juvenile and prison inmates to high school scholars, from college athletes to corporate executives and political leaders.
In his spare time, he enjoys enhancing his own wellness and physical fitness as well as mentoring young people and current athletes. His goal is to live the best quality of life possible
Harry Carson is married to Maribel and is the father to Aja Gurley Carson (m/Andrew, Jamison & Kellen), Dr. Donald Carson and United States Marine Corp Corporal Lucky Carson.