Kevin Carter talks NFL lockout, Steve Spurrier and

In his 14-year NFL career, Kevin Carter handed out plenty of punishment for opposing quarterbacks. He totaled 104.5 career sacks, reached double digit QB-takedowns four times (1998-2000, 2002), and led his team in sacks five times (1996, 1997, 1999, 2004). He also never missed a game in the NFL, which is a testament to his training habits and toughness.

Now that he’s retired, Kevin is helping to promote the website, which offers fans a chance to interact with not only current players, but legends of the game as well. The site also offers instructional videos from some of the best in the game, which is a great tool for high school athletes or players of any age who want to get tips from the pros. (If you’re a young defensive back, how can you pass up the opportunity to get instructional lessons from Pro Bowler Brian Dawkins?) The site is free to join and in minutes you could be interacting with NFL stars.

Kevin sat down with me recently to discuss not only, but I was also able to pick his brain about the current lockout mess and get his reaction to the recent comments made by his former Florida coach Steve Spurrier, who says college players should be paid.

The Scores Report: Hey Kevin!

Kevin Carter: Hey there, how are you?

TSR: Very good. You enjoying this ongoing lockout? I know as a fan, I sure am. It’s not nauseating at all.

KC: What a mess.

TSR: Do you think this secret meeting that transpired with the NFL and union officials can be viewed as a positive thing for fans? Are we finally pushing forward here?

KC: I really do, because there’s a certain portion of this fight that needed to be brought to the American public’s attention. There was a lot of posturing on both sides, but really a lot of posturing from the owners. Doing things like securing television revenue money, that even if there’s no season they’re still going to get their money. Doing things like lobbying on Capital Hill to try and influence the lawmakers so a lot of the things like tax laws that they enjoy still remain in place. So there was a portion of it that needed to be fought and brought to the American public’s attention. But ultimately, we’re not going to be able to negotiate through the court systems. At some point we’re going to have to sit down, have a conversation and get down to the brass tacks in order to make a deal for the greater good of the game. Our fans don’t deserve this. They’ve been too great to the sport of football. We’ve been able to grow exponentially; the NFL owners themselves have been able to enjoy a 400% increase in the equity of their business in the last 15-20 years, so the fans have been loyal. They’ve gone through strikes and CBA extensions, and near-scares and whatnot. But this is like nothing else in our history: this is a lockout. Basically the owners are saying, ‘We don’t like the economic structure the way it is set up, even though we’re the ones that have enjoyed this 400% increase in the equity of our business.’ Nobody can say that they’ve enjoyed anything close to that unless you own oil. A certain portion of this fight needed to be done in the courts. But now, with them having a private meeting and talking real numbers, and real dollars, and talking about how we can get this thing out of the courts and people back to work, I’m all for it. I think this is the first real step from a negotiating standpoint that we’ve taken on both sides.

TSR: What’s your gut feeling tell you about the lockout. How long do you think it’ll last and do you think it’ll wipe out the entire 2011 season?

KC: No, I don’t think that’ll be the case because yes, the owners get their revenue from the television contracts but they’re going to pay it back later. Yes, they’re going to succeed in squeezing out the players and basically making them settle for a deal that they might not want. But at what expense? Like I said, you’re letting your fans down. You’re letting your fans down when you’ve enjoyed so much economic prosperity. A lot of the people that you’re providing this game for are bending backwards working two jobs just to be a part of your league. Not to mention the fact that 29 out of 31 stadiums are owned and operated by the Municipal Policies and the tax payers in which the cities that they exist. So you’re talking about people that, basically this is their livelihood. You know, you’re affecting jobs: the policemen, the firemen, all the restaurants, all the car rental places, all the hotels. I mean, the economic value that a game brings to a city…if we don’t have that, it should be almost criminal. That part should almost be illegal. The NFL shouldn’t be allowed to do that. They shouldn’t be allowed to not put on a game because they want more money in an economic crunch, which our country is in. It shouldn’t be allowed to happen because so much is contingent on that game taking place. So if they play their cards wrong, from an ownership standpoint, then they’re going to lose the infrastructure of people who support the game. So I’m inclined to think more often than not that they’re just not that stupid.

TSR: In your opinion Kevin, what is the biggest thing that’s holding back this labor dispute and on which side is the issue coming from?

KC: Well, I know what’s holding it back. It’s almost like someone standing in your front yard offering you $100 to buy your house. You’re not going to entertain them because it’s not a real offer. I was on the executive committee for six years and even though there wasn’t a lockout there was a pending lockout, we started having CBA negotiation meetings back in 2007 and 2008. So for the last two years that I served on the board, I was actually going to these meetings. I can tell you there was no real offer. We discussed certain points and what would happen down the road with certain things, but to me in my gut estimation of what’s holding this thing back, it’s the fact that they’re just now starting to present what they’ll settle for on both sides. I mean, you can’t show your hands – especially from the players’ side. It’s good to be in the NFL right now. The benefits of playing in the NFL are just now getting up to par with the other professional sports. The things that they’ve enjoyed for years like medical assistance after you’re doing playing, you know, the other sports have this down pat already. Football for whatever reason, even with the barbaric nature of it, has just been so far behind. So we as players can’t just take a step back and say ‘ok, we’re going to settle for so much less,’ and screw the membership of guys who have suffered from head trauma and everything else. We stand on the shoulders of those players on the picket lines who have fought for a better league. We can’t turn our backs on that either, so the players are caught between a rock and a hard place. It’s not what you want, it’s what you’ll settle for. But at the same time, we can’t let those players down.

TSR: You played under Steve Spurrier while at Florida. I don’t know if you heard him the other day at the annual SEC meetings but he wants to figure out a way to pay college players. Do you think it’s wise to pay college players or do you think as a former collegiate athlete that a scholarship is enough?

University of South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier works the sidelines during his team’s game against the Auburn University Tigers in the NCAA SEC Championship college football game in Atlanta, Georgia, December 4, 2010. REUTERS/Tami Chappell (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

KC: I think in this day and age where the economic value of a college football game and how much value it brings to all these different campuses, yeah. These universities are making money hand over fist off of football. If you’re Tim Tebow and you’re walking to class, you see your jersey all over campus and in every bookstore. Let’s be real: There is a big time value that the programs bring to their universities. I agree with coach Spurrier. He is always so much further ahead from a trends standpoint and setting a precedent, that’s why I enjoyed playing for him all of those years ago. But yeah, I think a per diem would ease the strain of being a college athlete. Because when you’re in college and people are talking about living off of Ramen noodles, mac ‘n cheese and $2 pizzas, well if you’re a college athlete, yeah your books and tuition is paid for, but you can’t work. You can’t go get a job because you’re not allowed. Most of your time is filled up with studying and with your sport. I had very little time to do anything else when I was playing football. So much of my time was invested in that and whatever time I had left I had to study and make the grade. So yeah, I’m definitely in line with the idea of paying the players, do something and work it out. It helps those players get by and it may limit the pressures and temptations that come from agents who are willing to ease your entire financial situation that has been a strain on you as you break yourself in half earning millions of dollars for this perspective university.

TSR: Those are good points, although I wonder if it’ll be a slippery slope. For example, if your Tim Tebow you’re obviously making the university more money than the punter. So should Tebow get more than the punter? Do athletes in all sports get paid? Like I said, I think it would be a slippery slope, although I can see both sides of the argument.

KC: Well not if you mandate it. Obviously the NCAA regulates everything else, so they should be able to regulate this. There shouldn’t be different pay scales for different universities, or a measure of how much you bring in for the university. It should be flat across the board. It should be a flat fee and I’m sure they can work it out so it’s fair across the board. I don’t think it would be a slippery slope. I think you set the precedent and you talk about the consequences of making a bad decision just like they’re doing now. But I don’t think you would see so many Tressel situations.

TSR: I went onto the website and I’m highly interested in hearing more. Please fill myself and readers in on what is all about.

KC: You know, originally started off as a way to link players with each other and then, of course, link them to the outside world. As we know with Facebook and Twitter, there are all kinds of social networks that people can be a part of. They’re started with all kinds of premises and intentions of doing all kinds of different things. But most times they just give people the ability to upload photos, videos and you know, create different kinds of groups to develop friendships and offer a way for people to keep in touch.

TSR: Right.

KC: The same concept applies when you’re talking about SchoolOfTheLegends. It is a social network and it works just like Facebook, but basically we think of it as Facebook for football. Anyone or anything that pertains to football, you know, basically that’s what we’re about. But like I said, we’re a full-service social network and instead of starting ours with people, we started it with football legends who made the game great. We are an officially licensed partner of the NFL Players Association, which gives us access to every current locker room in the NFL and when you see John Randle, Bill Bates, Jason Witten, Jerome Bettis or Tony Gonzalez on our site, it’s the real player and not a fan tribute to that person.

TSR: Right, like on Facebook or Twitter.

KC: Right. And the thing that I’m perhaps most excited about on this site is the web-based, high-definition position-specific training videos that we offer that are taught by the NFL legends. So people like Warren Moon and Michael Vick…you know, Michael Vick basically shares all of his secrets. He teaches you and on the things that made him one of the most versatile quarterbacks in the NFL. Darren Sharper teaches you about playing the Cover 2 and the safety position; a defensive back using the trail technique footwork. The list of training videos goes on and on. Larry Fitzgerald, Derrick Mason, DeAngelo Williams, Jerome Bettis…you can learn how to play defensive line from the likes of myself. Every position is covered. If you’re a high school player looking to gain an edge or you’re a father or a parent that’s looking to give your child the extra-added edge to help them succeed on the field and learn, you’ll learn the correct way to play this game that we all know and love.

TSR: This sounds incredibly interesting and beneficial for young athletes.

KC: Football isn’t just about violence. It’s technique and you can learn a lot of things from NFL legends that they have learned along the way. They’re offering to teach you via the site and our program. So in a nutshell, that’s basically who and what we are. But like I said, we have over 1,300 current and former NFL players that are engaged on our network. The few names that I’ve mentioned, they’re big name guys. We have 20-30 Hall of Fame players that our engaged on our site. We’ve got a couple of hundred Pro Bowlers. It’s unbelievable. Like I said, where else can you strike up a Facebook-type relationship in an environment that’s just football. I speak to guys like Cornieuls Bennett and John Randle, players that are my heroes that I looked up to. But I also have relationships with guys like Marcell Dareus and Mark Ingram, who are our new legends that just engaged on our site.

TSR: Very Cool.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick takes the field to play the Green Bay Packers in their NFC Wild Card NFL playoff football game in Philadelphia, January 9, 2011. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

KC: So if you’re into football, if you love football, if you’re a football junkie, you can go from page to page to page, looking at profile after profile, photos and individual accounts. These profiles are customized to the actual NFL legend. So when you go to my actual profile, you’re going to see the things that I’m doing in the community, and you’re going to see what I’m doing with my life now. I guess the options and the things that you can do through this site are pretty much endless. We pride ourselves on being a complete site. We’ve got health and safety features and the tools necessary for any high school coach, player or parent to help their child succeed in football. I was actually present when Michael Vick was taping his video and he stopped in the middle of the video and said, ‘Man, if I had something like this when I was a kid, I would have broken the VCR tape just rewinding it watching it over, and over, and over again.’ And I said dude, I hear you – this is gold. I don’t even play quarterback and I’m sitting here watching you talk about all of the tricks of your craft and it’s just truly amazing. The NFL players that have given themselves to these training videos have taken great pride in who they are and how far they’ve come. The videos are great. Some of the people on here are big name players. Tony Gonzalez, Brian Dawkins they’re legends. These are guys that know the game and have played 14-15 years in the NFL and just have a wealth of knowledge to give back. So I’m really, really excited:

TSR: Well, I will certainly plug the website because it sounds fantastic for fans and young football players alike. I want to thank you for chatting with me today Kevin and I wish you the best of luck with the site.

KC: Thank you for having me.

TSR: Good luck with the website and hopefully we’ll talk again soon.

KC: I appreciate it – any time.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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