SAPAKOFF COLUMN: Super advice: Run, Harry, run

Harry Carson


Harry Carson says he can't lose. Whatever happens tonight in Super Bowl XLVI is gravy.

"The Giants are in it, and that's my team. I'm rooting for them," said the Hall of Fame linebacker and South Carolina State graduate. "But Bill Belichick is my very good friend and former coach. Pepper Johnson, the Patriots' defensive line coach, is one of my best friends."

Of course, Carson is in Indianapolis and will watch from cushy seats inside Lucas Oil Stadium. He played for 13 NFL seasons and helped the Giants defeat Denver in Super Bowl XXI when Belichick, the stoic New England head coach, was New York's defensive coordinator in charge of a ferocious bunch of tacklers including Carson, Johnson, Carl Banks, George Martin and the great Lawrence Taylor.

"The Patriots are a very classy organization, much like the Giants," Carson said via cell phone. "I'll be happy with whoever wins."

Typical Harry.

He gets along with both sides.

Which is why politics hopefully will nudge him away from a retirement that includes promoting a new book, educating folks about concussions and broadcast work. Carson, a resident of Franklin Lakes, N.J., is mulling a run for U.S. Congress.

"I'm not saying anything right now," said Carson, a Florence native.

"But after the Super Bowl, I probably will have an announcement one way or another."

C'mon, Harry.

You make far too much sense not to plunge.

If not New Jersey, maybe high office in South Carolina.

"Hmmm …" said Carson, 58. "Think I should?"

Yes. As a Democrat, or Republican, or independent.

The Carson Show

"I'm not a political person," Carson said. "If you read my book, you'll see that I hate politics and I hate politicians. But I'm like everybody else; I'm concerned about the direction of the country. There is so much tension, and we have to find a way to bring people back together."

The Carson Show platform sounds good so far.

"The truth of the matter is," Carson said, "I've been advocating on behalf of people most of my life -- whether it's as the captain of a football team or in my Hall of Fame induction speech advocating for better benefits for retired players. I feel like I've represented all of the folks at South Carolina State and in Florence, South Carolina, and the state of South Carolina very well."

The man has been through a lot. Carson's mom left their Florence home when he was a young boy to find work in New Jersey. His official Hall of Fame presenter at the 2006 ceremony in Canton, Ohio, was his then 23-year-old son Donald, who suffers from a rare blood disorder.

Carson in his book "Captain For Life" (St. Martin's Press) boldly takes on the touchy subject of his own post- concussion syndrome (PCS), diagnosed in 1990.

"It's one of the main reasons why I wrote the book, and I wrote it myself; I didn't have a ghost writer," he said. "I wanted to use my own words, because in talking about concussions or neurological issues, it's very difficult for anyone who has never dealt with it to be able to explain exactly what's going on."

PCS awareness

Since the book came out last year, Carson has had correspondence from former football players, wives of players and mothers of sons who have suffered concussions playing high school football.

"It's not just athletes with PCS," Carson said. "You're also dealing with those who have served in the military, people who come back from Iraq or Afghanistan."

Rare to hear a football guy step outside of sports in a concussion discussion.

Plus, Carson has political experience. He and his wife, Maribel, have been on too many boards and counsels to mention. In high school, Carson was senior class president, co-chairman of a bi-racial committee and an ROTC commander.

Head coach Willie Jeffries' two-time captain never missed a game during his four seasons at S.C. State.

We really can't lose with Harry Carson.

Either he runs for some important office in New Jersey (or South Carolina), or he keeps making a difference outside the political mess he detests.

Reach Gene Sapakoff at 937-5593 or sapakoff