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Rubin Carter, Prototype Nosetackle October 17, 1977

When he appeared on our cover, the Denver Broncos' Rubin
Carter, then in his third NFL season, was an obscure lineman who
personified the latest NFL neologism, nosetackle, but obscurity
wasn't his lot for long. Under the white-hot spotlight of Super
Bowl XII the following January, he unexpectedly became a marked

As he paced the Louisiana Superdome sideline during the second
half of the Broncos' 27-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Carter
sensed that something was amiss. A phalanx of strangers directly
behind him was following his every step as he expended nervous
energy between defensive series. As the final gun sounded,
Carter was whisked into the Denver locker room. "That's when I
was informed by a member of NFL security that there had been a
threat on my life," he says. "I was shocked. Why would they want
to kill me?"

The threat, however morbid and misguided, was testament to
Carter's play that afternoon--six tackles, two quarterback sacks
and a fumble recovery. Nothing ever came of the incident, and
now Carter recounts the strangest moment of his life with a
chuckle over the irony of a nosetackle's becoming the center of
anyone's attention.

At the time of his retirement, following the 1986 season, Carter
had appeared in more games (152) at nosetackle than any other
NFL player. While on injured reserve in '86, he developed an
affinity for tutoring Broncos such as Simon Fletcher and Rulon
Jones. After a two-year coaching stint in Denver, he moved to
the college ranks and has spent the last decade as an assistant,
first at Howard, then at San Jose State and now as defensive
line coach at Maryland, where he recently completed his second
season. The 46-year-old father of four lives in Maryland with
his wife, Karen.

Rubin's eldest son, Andre, a 6' 4", 245-pound sophomore at Cal
and a second-team All-Pac 10 defender in 1998, is Carter's most
impressive coaching product to date. But while the father once
made his living in the trenches, the son spends his Saturday
afternoons rushing the passer from the fringe. "He saw me coming
home after getting beat up too much," says Rubin. "He said, 'I'm
not going to play in there. I'll play on the end.'"

--Richard Deitsch


COLOR PHOTO: JOHN G. ZIMMERMAN [Cover of October 17, 1977 Sports Illustrated magazine, featuring Rubin Carter]

A death threat during Super Bowl XII left him asking, "Why would
they went to kill me?"