“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” — Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Derek Carr took his golden right hand, big enough to grip a football and spiral it across the field, yet small enough to rub the fuzz on his baby’s pinkish forehead.
He lowered his deep voice, which is gruff enough to call out an audible over the roars of a sellout crowd, yet shushed enough to keep saying, “Daddy loves you, you’re doing great,” without waking up the sleeping baby in his arms.
Baby Dallas just gave a glassy blue-eyed stare across the sterile hospital room, sucking away at an orange binkie. This newborn son had no idea how his two emergency surgeries and 23 days lived in the neonatal intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital would make football mean nothing to a college quarterback about to start his senior-year chase after a Heisman Trophy, a BCS bowl game and the Fresno State passing record book.
This is supposed to be Carr’s dream season, a retelling of his brother David Carr’s 2001 fairytale story of Sports Illustrated covers, top-10 rankings and millions banked as the top draft pick in the NFL. All Derek Carr wanted at this point was to take his boy home and show him the words of Jeremiah 29:11 written on his boy-blue bedroom wall, and tell him there’s not an intestinal knot that is tight enough to keep him from God’s plans.
“These three weeks, I keep telling my son he has made me so much tougher through this and he doesn’t have a clue what I’m saying, but I tell him anyway,” Carr said Monday. “I’ve had to live off my faith this whole time or I don’t know how I’d get through it. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through in my life, no doubt.”
David and Heather Carr shared their previously untold story with me this week for a college football profile that ran in today’s New York Times. The newspaper story allowed only so much space. This is the rest of his story, with an emphasis on his Christian perspective.