Quincy Carter: The Story Of The Ultimate Quarterback Conundrum
Out of the many personalities within the pages of Decade of Futility, none were given a more thoughtful portrayal than Quincy Carter. In many areas concerning Carter’s up and down tenure as Dallas Cowboys quarterback, the truth was plain to see. And in those areas where a silent gray cloud thickly hovered, I at least had a hunch of what the truth was.
Unlike many of the hecklers and critics who have voiced their opinion over the past decade, I never thought of Quincy Carter as a draft-day failure, or even a quarterbacking bum. To me, Carter seemed to be a player with a certain potential that was impossible to realize simply because the coaching staff and management weren’t willing to be patient with him during his first two seasons.
Where much of the gray is concerning Carter happens to be within the time-frame that Bill Parcells was in Dallas. After leading Dallas to a 10-6 record, and a playoff berth, in 2003, Carter was abruptly released during the early stages of training camp the following August.
The reason for his release has been debated ever since. Was it because he had failed a drug test? Was it because the Cowboys learned of an alleged addiction to marijuana? Or was it simply because the Cowboys were finally fed up with his inconsistent play?
The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) filed a grievance on behalf of Carter stating that he was unjustly released. In writing Decade of Futility I chose to stay clear of this lawsuit primarily because of its inherent controversy, but also because I thought the Cowboys actually had a good argument when they claimed that they waived Carter due to under-par performance. (To bring the NFLPA’s case into the book would, I thought, be an unwarranted distraction.)
Even during a career-best playoff campaign in 2003 there was always this air of gun-shyness about Carter, some imperceptible force that prompted him to retreat back into his shell at the imminent moment of progression. After being left for dead by previous offensive coordinators Jack Reilly and Bruce Coslet, Carter was given a second chance with Parcells and quarterbacks coach Sean Payton.
Needless to say, he didn’t take advantage. Though, I didn’t believe that it was for the reasons that many would like to believe. I always thought Carter, athletically speaking, was good enough to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, but something inside of him simply held him back. Even when he did have a solid support system around him.
Almost nine years to the day that he released Carter, Parcells finally gave his personal insight on Carter’s undoing.
“I became pretty close with Quincy personally, and this kid had a lot of good qualities,” Parcells said during the week of his enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013. “He was smart. He understood it. But I just couldn’t save his [butt]. I really couldn’t.
“You just didn’t have the time. There he is, he got his team in the playoffs, he’s the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, he’s playing good, he’s improving, he can get out of trouble, he’s pretty smart, he can make almost every throw — and it’s just, some people just can’t fight the pressure to succeed.
“They just can’t fight it. It’s too much on them once the bar gets up a little bit. It’s too much. I don’t know all the problems or the demons exactly, but that’s what eventually took him down……..
“”There were a couple of guys there that I knew I was going to have trouble counting on. [Drew] Henson because of his newness and he didn’t seem to be able to sort things out, and Quincy because of, you know … ”
Read about Quincy Carter’s final stand with the Dallas Cowboys in Chapter 11 of Decade of Futility.