NEW YORK -- With Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick and Marty Schottenheimer nodding in agreement, a former teammate spoke Tuesday about Harry Carson the man, not the New York Giants middle linebacker and soon-to-be Hall of Famer.
George Martin's testimonial set the tone on a day the Giants assembled Lawrence Taylor and 11 other teammates, as well as three of his former New York coaches, for a special tribute.
"It's all about respect," said Belichick, who has led the New England Patriots to three Super Bowls in the last five years.
Schottenheimer and Parcells felt the same way.
Carson, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 5, earned that respect in 13 seasons.
A nine-time Pro Bowl pick, a leader, a captain -- Carson was all that. But Martin, a defensive end who played every season with Carson, said what his friend did off the field are the memories his teammates will cherish.
Martin brought up the names of three former Giants: Running back Doug Kotar, quarterback Jeff Rutledge and center Jim Clack. Kotar died of cancer in 1983.
"It was Harry Carson who gathered all of his teammates and formulated a visitation to Doug who was still being hospitalized and subsequently set up a scholarship fund for his kids," Martin said. "That spoke to me in ways that you could never imagine."
As the backup to Phil Simms, Rutledge rarely played. He was in a car accident that nearly cost him his life, Martin said.
"He stated to me emphatically that had it not been for Harry Carson paying out of his own pocket, coming to his bedside and reassuring him that there was something for him to fight and to live for, that he would not have made it," Martin recalled.
Clack was a guard on two Super Bowl-winning Pittsburgh Steelers teams in the 1970s. He finished his career playing four seasons with the Giants. He died earlier this year of heart failure at 58, having fought neck and throat cancer for about four years.
"He did so with no fanfare, no bands, no parades," Martin said, recalling the death. "Yet, still the gentleman who we call our team captain, Harry Carson, was there front and center, paying his respects, acknowledging the fraternity of which he was a part of. That's the kind of person that Harry Carson is."
Parcells, the current Dallas Cowboys coach who led the Giants to two Super Bowls in 1986 and 1990, said Carson stood the test of time.
"He had to walk down that tunnel on a lot of icy Sundays in the
Meadowlands when he wasn't feeling pretty good, probably wondering how he was going to get through these games he had to play," Parcells said. "But he was there for all of us, most every Sunday for upwards of 12 years."
Carson also showed he could be a comic. When asked about Belichick as a young coach, Carson said: "There were times we didn't know if Belichick knew what he was talking about or not."
A more serious Carson said he had no regrets over his decision in 2005 to write a letter to the Hall of Fame, asking them to remove his name from consideration. Many told him he was making a mistake.
"I knew where I stood with my teammates. I knew that I'd earned their respect over the years," he said.