FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- On the final morning of the 2021 NFL draft, New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas conducted one last meeting with his scouts, a chance for them to advocate for their favorite prospects before the final four rounds commenced.
Andy Davis, the Jets' East Coast scout, said he wanted Michael Carter.
"Which one?" Douglas asked, who shared the anecdote on WFAN radio.
"Yes," the scout replied, prompting laughs.
In another words, he wanted both -- North Carolina running back Michael Carter and Duke defensive back Michael Carter II.
The Jets drafted Carter in the fourth round (No. 107 overall) and Carter II in the fifth (154), making for one of the quirkiest draft days ever. In fact, it's the only time in NFL history a team picked two players with the same first and last name in the same draft, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The closest case occurred in 2002, per Elias, when the Cleveland Browns drafted wide receiver Andre Davis and linebacker Andra Davis.
What makes the Carter-Carter story so odd is they were on opposite sides of a fierce college rivalry. They faced each other four times, with Duke winning the first two, North Carolina the last two. According to the official play-by-play from the games, Carter II was involved in four tackles on Carter the running back, including back-to-back solo tackles in the 2018 contest.
North Carolina's Carter delivered the signature moment in the personal rivalry, though, scoring last season on a 22-yard reception in which he trucked Carter II at the 1-yard line. Hit him so hard that he flew back into the end zone.
But there's no hard feelings, especially now that they're teammates. The two players, who trained for the draft at the same facility, are having a good time with the Carter x 2 storyline.
"A little part of me was like, 'Man, I can't even have my own name,'" Carter, the running back, said with a smile. "It's OK, though. He's a great, great talent, with freak speed."
Said Carter II: "It's pretty cool and kind of ironic that we played against each other for four years in the same [rivalry], have the same name and now we're on the same team. It's been cool to play with that and build our relationship even more. We've had fun between us. The other people don't make too much fuss about us having the same name, I guess not yet. There hasn't been too much confusion."
Carter is a popular surname in the real world, but only 10 Carters have played in the NFL, according to Pro Football Reference. That list includes only one Michael Carter, the former San Francisco 49ers nose tackle who played from 1984 to 1992.
So, in a span of a few hours on Day 3 of the draft, the Jets tripled the Michael Carter population in NFL history.
Jets coach Robert Saleh said he might refer to them as MC1 and MC2. Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson cracked, "It's going to be confusing, for sure. I've got to come up with nicknames for them."
Hey, it's confusing for a lot of folks. When the first Carter was drafted in Round 4, ESPN punched up highlights of Carter II.
You don't need to be an Einstein to come up with the perfect marketing campaign for the two rookies: E = mc2
The Jets hope the Carters bring plenty of E (energy) to their respective sides of the ball.
The former Tar Heels standout is 5-foot-8, 201 pounds, but he displayed big-play ability in college. Despite splitting time with UNC teammate Javonte Williams, a second-round pick of the Denver Broncos, Carter rushed for a career-high 1,245 yards and nine touchdowns in 2020, averaging 8.0 per carry.
Carter II the cornerback was a three-year starter who clocked under 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his pro day, enhancing his draft stock.
Both will have a chance to contribute immediately. Carter the running back joins a backfield that has no true RB1; Carter II will be used in the slot, where there is no proven veteran. Javelin Guidry, an undrafted free agent in 2020, finished the season in that position, but he's not entrenched in the job.
The days of Carter versus Carter are over. Who won the collegiate bragging rights? Well, MC1 did have that highlight touchdown, leaving MC2 on his back.
"I didn't know who it was until I saw it [the replay]," Carter said of his touchdown. "In that same game, though, he had a one-handed pick. So, he got it back."