by Jim Gehman
Marty Carter wasn’t an average player.
“I think a lot of it was conditioning, keeping the body year-round in shape,” Carter said. “And a lot of it was good fortune and the luck of the draw with the injury bug. I never had a major knee issue or a shoulder issue, just bumps and bruises for the most part.
“And intellect. Some guys like to do other things and play football. I was just more of a football spirited guy. I was football first.”
Drafted by Tampa Bay in 1991, Carter spent four seasons with the Buccaneers. That was followed by four seasons with the Chicago Bears, three with the Atlanta Falcons, and one with the Detroit Lions. Eleven seasons – 161 games – 151 starts.
What makes Carter most proud of his career?
“I was drafted into Tampa, perennial losers, and once I got to Chicago, they were perennial losers prior to the Super Bowl (XX) win,” Carter said. “And it didn’t matter to me because I thought I could make them better. If I’ve got to start from the bottom and work my way up, I was willing to do that as far as the winning.
“Just doing something that a lot of people told me that I couldn’t do. I wasn’t world class speed by no stretch it imagination, but as far as detailed in my job and being where I was supposed to be, I took a lot of pride in that.”
He wasn’t the only one. Carter’s mom, Ellen Dunlap, was just as proud of each of his 1,003 career tackles and 13 interceptions.
“Whatever team I was on, she was the number one fan. I mean, she still talks about the teams I played on. And she knows football. It’s like. ‘Why did he lose containment?’” Carter laughed. “Probably my biggest fan, just to make her have a son that did what is so hard to do and that’s to make it on an NFL team and sustain legitimacy. My mom being happy. I wouldn’t say was more happy than me, but just for the opportunity.”
Retired, Carter makes his home in his native Georgia, where he gets to enjoy spending time with his grandchildren.
“I’ve got four grandbabies, and I’m just trying to be in their lives as much as I can. One, I can’t even catch. Three years old. You’d be better off tying a rope around her leg and around your leg because you ain’t going to catch her,” Carter said with a laugh.
Unfortunately, he has struggles with his health.
“I have problems with my memory and depression,” Carter said. “Some of the same issues that other guys that I talked to have faced as far as the memory and everything. And the depression. I had my share of concussions, as well.
“I stay at home a lot. Don’t do well around a crowd, I don’t know why. I get real bad anxiety, but I’m still here. I don’t want it sound like I’m complaining. That’s just being honest with how my everyday life is now. I don’t want to portray a pity story. It’s just who I am as far as that.”
Carter is also a Hall of Famer. In 2018, Middle Tennessee State University enshrined him into its Hall of Fame. A three-year starter, following his senior season, Carter was named Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-OVC.
“It felt really good (to be honored) because of how I played the game as far as college and the pros. It felt good that they recognized it and even thought of putting me in their Hall of Fame,” Carter said.
And what advice would he offer to others who aspire to follow in his footsteps and make the leap from playing at a small school to playing in the NFL?
“First of all, keep God first,” Carter said. “And be a doer. In life, you’ve got to outwork the next person. I don’t care what you’re doing. If you’re going to go out there and try to do what I did, there aren’t many people that can say that they got to that level. So, stay humble and just do the right thing when it comes to your profession. Just be a good person and don’t be a follower, be a leader.”