4 Questions with Georgia High School Football Hall of Fame inductee Quincy Carter


Today’s interviewee is Quincy Carter, who will be inducted into the Georgia High School Hall of Fame on Saturday. As quarterback, Carter led Southwest DeKalb to the 1995 championship in Class 4A, the GHSA’s highest class at the time, and was the AJC’s all-classification player of the year. After three seasons of minor league baseball, he chose to play football at Georgia, became an immediate starter and left as the second-leading passer in Bulldogs history. He played four seasons in the NFL, most memorably with the Dallas Cowboys. Carter is now a private quarterbacks coach locally and joined Southwest DeKalb’s coaching staff this season.

1. Could you take us through your experience as a football player at Southwest DeKalb and how the state championship impacted you? “It really impacted me greatly, but when I really think about those times, the football field actually comes secondary to what our community meant to us. And that’s from the band, cheerleaders, Coach [Buck] Godfrey, Steve Davenport, Coach [Napoleon] Cobb, just all of the coaches that influenced us to be great young men, to love their community, support our school, teaching what it meant to be a Panther and singing that Panther pride chant that we had. That was first and foremost. What that did for us is when we got on the field we were brothers. We loved each other and would do anything for each other, from winning a game to picking each other up off our feet. When we won that state championship, we did it for all the classes from the first class that Coach Godfrey coached in 1983. As brothers, we were going to go to war for each other at all costs and try to win.” [Carter also was asked the best lesson he learned from Coach Godfrey, who retired after the 2012 season with a DeKalb County Schools record 274 victories. Said Carter, “The confidence that he embedded in us, that you could accomplish anything you wanted but you had to work your butt off for it. It’s always been embedded in me. And we believed we could win a state championship. And I believed that I could go and win the starting job and beat out five other quarterbacks at the University of Georgia. I had that confidence that I could do it, but the only way was through hard work.”]

2. You’re coaching high school football. How is the game different now, and were there adjustments you had to make going from the mindset of player to coach? “Yes, there is a difference. But we’re dealing with a different athlete. We’re dealing with an athlete with more distractions. They have the internet and coaches outside of us who are training them. So it’s more challenging to get their full attention and to understand what we’re trying to accomplish as a team, let alone what type of young man we’re trying to build. Back when I was playing, you weren’t dealing with an athlete that could go on social media and try to get as many likes as he wanted just to feel good about himself and earn self-accolades. We as players had our coaches and mentors feeding that into us, and we weren’t trying to get that from social media and everywhere outside of the program. I think that’s a big difference.

[Carter went on to describe the core principles that he tries to teach to youth.] “The three that stand out for me are, one, hard work because if you’re not working harder than anything, you’re not trying to accomplish anything. Two, discipline to work hard. It takes discipline to wake up in the morning from even going to school and trying to be the best student first and everything that comes along with being a student-athlete like working out, putting the right fluids in your body and being on time to class and training. Three, the big ‘C’ word, consistency. Being consistent with your discipline and your hard work. And it all ties in together.”

3. Though you were the state football player of the year, you chose baseball out of high school. What influenced that decision? “Baseball was my first love. It was the first sport I played at Gresham Park. And then I went on to play travel ball at East Cobb with Ron Landy. We were one of the original East Cobb teams. I started playing around 100 games of summer ball and really loved baseball. However, I knew playing baseball and trying to be a college quarterback would be a little difficult. So with the opportunity of getting drafted in the second round by my hometown team, the Chicago Cubs, I took it and ran with it. I always had in mind, though, that if things didn’t work out with the Cubs and I wanted to play football then I could get out of my contract and go play football. So that was my mindset going in, and to be honest with you, that $450,000 wasn’t too bad to see either at 18 years old. So that was my mindset, but my love for football never left me. When August hit during baseball season, my body started to itch and feel football. So after that first full season in 1997, that’s when I started going to Georgia games with Jonas Jennings, one of my great teammates at Georgia, and I really started to look at the Georgia program harder. I signed with Georgia Tech out of high school, but Joe Hamilton [Tech’s quarterback from 1996 to 1999] pretty much established himself down there. Georgia was always a top choice of mine coming out.”

4. While playing in the NFL, you had some issues regarding drug and alcohol addiction. Can you talk about your battling that as a pro athlete and how you’ve used that to mentor and coach youth today? “Yes, I started a habit at 16 years old that I regret, but also I’m also a poster child for what happens when you allow things into your life to distract you from God’s plan. I started that habit at 16. It really picked up steam when I went off to play baseball before coming back to the University of Georgia to play football. I would put it down here and there at Georgia, but what I developed was a sense that when things get hard and when adversity hits, I can go duck off, smoke some marijuana, drink and try to take that pain way, try to take that anxiety away, try to take anything away from knocking that door down and dealing with life on life’s terms. Consequently that habit followed me to Dallas. I was told by the Dallas Cowboys that if I ever got close to getting into the [NFL] drug program they were going to cut me. That warning did not even scare me a little bit. I had developed an addiction, and I didn’t know how to deal with it. And so consequently I got cut by the Cowboys, and that rocked my world, and my addiction took full flight. I battled and struggled for 12, 13 years in and out of rehab, trying to get my life back together, start coaching.

“I actually tried to get back into the NFL, but I couldn’t stop what I was doing because the only way to really tackle this thing of addiction is to put two feet into the program and the 12 Steps, and that’s immersing myself in it, and that’s what I wasn’t willing to do because I wasn’t willing to admit that I had an addiction. So, I battled 12, 13 years from that ‘06 season that I didn’t play up until 2019, and that was 13 years going in and out of rehab but not wanting to put two feet into recovery. Until I did that, I didn’t get any results.

“What I like to tell young men is to watch what you do because you never know what habits you may start. I was dealing with a monster of addiction, but now we’re dealing with an even greater monster, and that’s fentanyl. And these people are putting fentanyl in weed, they’re putting it in cocaine and drinks at parties. So you really have to watch it.

“I like to tell all young men do not start anything that will distract you from God’s plans and dreams. I took my whole dreams away from myself by starting that habit. And what I thought was fun at 16 followed me all the way to Dallas, took my job away from me, and I still didn’t realize the ramifications I put myself in because I developed an addiction. And with that comes another set of problems, and there’s a proper way to handle that, and if you’re not willing to handle it the proper way, that thing will continue to jump on your back.

“I grew up in the church. I’ve seen God’s love and spirit. I’ve seen miraculous things around me. God was always with me, and I took my eyes off God. I didn’t let God handle and tackle the things I was dealing with. It started with marijuana, and it picked up from that to something harder like cocaine and heavy drinking. So I didn’t allow God to be God, and I took my eyes off God. I’ve got to add that. His love endures forever, and I’m a walking testimony of that.”

Carter also wanted to add his thoughts on the events of this Saturday: “Personally, when I look back and get the Hall of Fame induction, I look back at my mom [Sherry Carter-Embree]. I moved down here from Chicago at 3 years old. Growing up on Custard Avenue in Mountain Park, a low-income area, my mom provided everything that I needed. Coming up through Gresham Park and then getting the opportunity to play for Southwest DeKalb, and everything she did for me along with the confidence she embedded in me as well just propelled me to be the man I am today, getting back on my feet and going through adversity. My mom is the real MVP.”

- Interview by GHSF Daily intern Micahya Costen

Produced by Georgia High School Football Daily, a free e-mail newsletter. To join the mailing list, click here.


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