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Where Are They Now

Where Are They Now: Quincy Carter

Catch Up with the Jets Legend from Chicago

Jets quarterback Quincy Carter fills in for an injured Chad Pennington during the Jets 17-22 loss against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday, November 7, 2004. Offense. Photo by Al Pereira.CarterQActionXVII

If every NFL player was perfect, all the games would end in a tie. Quincy Carter wasn't involved in any ties during his three seasons with Dallas.

After battling drug and alcohol problems, the quarterback who was chosen in the second round of the 2001 Draft out of Georgia, and guided the Cowboys to a 10-6 record and the playoffs in 2003, was released during the 2004 training camp.

The Jets offered him a second chance when they claimed him 19 days before the season opener.

"I was very excited simply because I had been sitting for about three, three and a half weeks. It had been long time since I hadn't been on a sports team and been in the locker room or associated with being on a team," Carter said.

"(Head coach Herm Edwards and I) had a real good talk. He was a little sympathetic about the things that happened in Dallas for me, getting cut and everything, but he let me know this is a fresh start. 'Nobody's judging you. We just want you to be Quincy.'

"Herm was very firm from the start. He let me know how excited he was to have me. To have a quality backup if anything happens to the starter, Chad (Pennington). And so he let me know my role. Just come in and be a leader. Don't try to go out and beyond what your role is. Just fit in. But man, we had a great locker room. We really did. Having some really special teammates, it was pretty cool to be around."

One of the things Edwards mentioned he was looking for in Carter was to be a quality backup if anything happened to Pennington. After leading the Jets to a 5-0 start and a 6-1 record, in New York's Week 9 game in Buffalo, something did. Pennington injured his right rotator cuff and would be sidelined.

In Carter's first start against Baltimore, he completed 13 of 22 passes for 175 yards in a 20-17 overtime loss. The Jets won the following game in Cleveland, 10-7, when he was 11 of 20 for 116 yards, including a fourth-quarter game-winning 11-yard touchdown pass to Justin McCareins.

In his final start, against the Cardinals in Arizona, Carter was 8 of 12 and passed for 133 yards. He racked up another touchdown on a 69-yard pass to Santana Moss. The Jets flew back home with a 13-3 victory.

And while Carter kept New York's playoff hopes alive in Pennington's three-game absence, and helped post a 10-6 record, he, however, enrolled in a rehab program and wasn't with them when they beat San Diego in overtime in the Wild Card round, and then fell to Pittsburgh in overtime in the divisional round.   

Carter's time with the Jets wasn't lengthy or perfect, if you will, but he does find it memorable.

"It was great. The fondest memory is actually waking up in New York and playing a football game in New Jersey. Just playing in the big city, that was pretty cool because of our fans," he said. "Now, we had some great fans in Dallas, but New York Jets fans are not lacking any spirit at all. So it was pretty cool to play for the city."

After hooking up with arena teams in a few smaller cities including Bossier. LA; Abilene, TX; and Corpus Christi, TX; he went on to start the Quincy Carter Foundation.

"My whole mission for my foundation is to create a safe, drug-free environment. That's whether through camp. That's whether through supporting guys who need help to go to sober living after they get out of rehab. That's clinics. That's going out and talking to schools," Carter said.

"Drugs and alcohol played a big role of my life. And if I can just save anybody from the hardships of this fatal disease of alcoholism and being an addict, man, I'm going to do it. I'm on a mission to do it.

"I went to rehab here almost five years ago. Strengthened my relationship with God. I dove into steps because I needed AA. I just wasn't a guy who goes cold turkey, go to church and quit. So I really needed to dive into the steps. I did the hard work and continue to do the hard work. I just want to help anybody who's struggling."

And when he sees that he may be making a difference in someone's life …

"It's a tingly feeling in your heart," Carter said. "Any Joe Blow, they're struggling with addiction, and you're able to point them towards the right direction and put them in a great place to have some success in life, it's a tingly feeling that I just can't even almost find the way to describe.

"My sponsor and great friend, (former Cowboys linebacker Thomas) Hollywood Henderson, he's told me for years, once I've freed myself up and tell my story, it's going to free me up. And I've had a couple of other people say, 'Man, people are going to listen to you because of the significant things you've done in your life before.' You know, I try to stay humble and not pay attention to things like that. But I've got to be honest with you, kids do listen.

"I have gotten a great response from kids and adults, too. And so I'm just going to continue to use this platform and let God use me in any way that he wants."

Making his home in the Atlanta suburb of Decatur, GA, Carter, the father of seven, is also on the coaching staff at his alma mater, Southwest DeKalb High School.

"I enjoy getting to know them. Getting to understand what makes my players tick. Getting to know their goals. Getting to know some of their challenges so I can better coach them," said Carter, who is also the founder of a quarterback school. "But that relationship between all my players, and us really working on a common goal to get them where they want to get in life, I think that's the most beauty of it."

After everything he has experienced, what's the best thing about being Quincy Carter today?

"I did some great things before I ended up ruining my career with drugs and alcohol," he said. "I knew I was doing some things that wasn't spelling success. So I would say just being able to look in the mirror and know this is Quincy. Because you never can hide and lie to yourself.

"Looking in that mirror back in 2001 and '02, I know I'm not doing the right things, but I'm fooling myself. I'm trying to be the quarterback of America's Team and working my ass off, but I was still doing things behind closed doors that wasn't going to spell success.

"So personally, I think being able to look in that mirror and say, 'Hey, you know something, you let God run your life and you're out here helping people.' I can look in the mirror and smile today."