NFLer brings hope back home

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:25 AM ET

Kerry Carter will stand along the sidelines at Etobicoke Collegiate this afternoon, and some will point at him, and some will have the nerve to talk to him and some will just admire from afar.

Once, he was one of them. Another high school kid with talent and a dream.

Except somehow he made it. Somehow he clawed and scratched and fought his way on to the roster of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks and then he did it all over again this season.

Carter will be there today watching Toronto high school ball, home on his bye week, because he has never stopped being that kid from Father Henry Carr.

"It's a great feeling," Carter said about flying home yesterday. "I've always wanted to part of giving something back. I want to be part of helping younger players develop.

"You give kids a glimmer of hope and they can accomplish anything.

"You don't come home and rub it in people faces. You don't say 'I'm in the NFL.' Sure, I'm happy to be where I am and I'm also very thankful. I can't get caught up in it. It's too easy to have it taken away. Every day I pinch myself to realize this isn't a dream."

Nobody dreams of running special teams in the NFL. Nobody grows up wanting to be a kamikaze. It just happens, the way it happened for Carter. He was a running back at Stanford, another Canadian at an American college, some thought too tall at 6-foot-1, others thought too slow. When the NFL draft came and went in 2003, nobody called Carter's name.

That should have been the end of the football story.

But Stump Mitchell, the running backs coach in Seattle, liked what he saw of Carter at Stanford and the Seahawks were generous enough to offer him a signing bonus of $12,500 US to take a shot at the NFL. It may have been the big time; it wasn't the big money.

Carter did enough in pre-season games and on special teams to earn a place on the roster and a salary about half of what the lowest-paid players in the NHL earn. He carried the ball only three times as a rookie. He has yet to carry the ball this season on a team where Shaun Alexander is the running game.

For now, Kerry Carter will run special teams, learn the business, and try to play the survival game. That's half the battle in the NFL. Making it is one thing: Staying there is another.

"You don't want to be timid," he said. "You have to approach every day that way. I'm young, there's a lot I want to accomplish, a lot I want to do. And if I can help some kids believe, help them along the way, even better."


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