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WHEN YOU BECOME A GIANT, YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE PART OF A FAMILY. OUR OWNER, WELLINGTON MARA, TOOK AN INTEREST IN YOU AS A PLAYER AND AS A PERSON, AND WHETHER WE HAD WON OR LOST, HE WOULD COME TO THE LOCKER ROOM AND SHAKE your hand. You didn't want to disappoint the family.
And that includes the fans. If you play your heart out and lose to a superior opponent, Giants fans give you applause and say job well done, but if you go out and stink up the place, they're not very forgiving. I was there during those very lean years, the '70s and early '80s, when fans expressed their frustration by burning tickets. Then there was that plane flying overhead with the trailing banner that read 15 YEARS OF LOUSY FOOTBALL—WE'VE HAD ENOUGH. Having gone through that made winning the Super Bowl in '86 so much sweeter.
That season everything clicked in the second game, against San Diego. We had lost our first game to the Dallas Cowboys, 31-28, and San Diego had beaten Miami 50-28. Nobody really thought we could compete with the Chargers, but we played them hard, and we won the game 20-7. At that point we knew we were on our way.
I think the turning point for the '07 Giants was the Philadelphia game the last weekend of September. It was like someone turned on a light switch, and they finally understood what they needed to do to really play solid football.
We had eight guys going to the Pro Bowl on that '86 team. This year you probably don't know anyone on the offensive line or in the secondary. On the defensive line you might only know Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora. They're just guys who don't threaten anybody on paper, but when they get on the field, they're very powerful because they are a team. I'll take team any day over big-name guys.
I was asked to be an honorary captain during the Packers game, so I flew with the team to Green Bay. When we got to the hotel, I had dinner with safety Gibril Wilson, wide receiver David Tyree and safety James Butler, and I told them that during the season, every yard counts, but when you get into the postseason, it's reduced to fractions of inches.
During the game I was down on the sideline, and Brett Favre threw a pass to Donald Driver. Driver ran after the catch and scored a touchdown after Wilson just missed him. When Wilson came over to the sideline, he looked over, and he saw me. I put two fingers up—my thumb and my index finger—and I showed him a fraction of an inch. He nodded to me that he understood.
When the players took the field this season, they were playing not just for themselves but also for every Giants player who has worn the uniform. Being on the sideline in Green Bay was a special experience that took me back to when I played, because I felt that I had a stake in what was happening with the team. I'm still part of the family.
From 1976 through '88 Carson made the Pro Bowl nine times. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in '06. Now 54, Carson lives in Franklin Lakes, N.J., with his wife, Maribel, whom he married in February '07. He is the CEO and president of Harry Carson Inc., a sports consulting company he founded in '86, and the executive director of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, an organization dedicated to creating diversity and promoting equal opportunity for nonplayers who work in the NFL.