BEFORE HE got sacked in Houston, David Carr got sacked in Houston. The kid with the golden arm was taken down 249 times in five seasons with the Texans, and even upright he flailed: When Houston cut Carr on March 26, the franchise's first-ever draft choice (in 2002) had a career record of 22--53. What did he want in a new home? The 6'3", 223-pound former Fresno State star says he didn't mind being a number 2—he just wanted to go to a team that knew how to win. Welcome to Carolina, David.
On moving from Texas to North Carolina
The toughest part was leaving my little brother Derek and my parents. They stayed near Houston where they had moved [from Bakersfield] when the Texans drafted me. My wife, Melody, and my three boys are with me, but it's hard because the grandparents are such good babysitters and my sons, Austin , Tyler  and Cooper  like being around them. My brother's 16, and he wanted to finish high school in Texas.
On how he explained the move to the kids
I told them we were going closer to a beach, and then they didn't care, they just wanted to see the sand.
On being a backup—to Jake Delhomme—after starting 75 of his 76 career games
You hear the first-team offense called up, and you start to run to the huddle. You take a little half step, then you catch yourself and try to play it off. At least it hasn't gotten to the point where I actually go into the huddle.
On his new teammates
They treat me like an old man, which is weird. There's a lot of young guys here, and I'm taking a couple of them under my wing. When I was talking to Jerry—Mr. Richardson [the Panthers' owner]—he said, There's no bad guys on the team. I haven't found one yet.
On whether he has anything to prove in Carolina
Definitely. I haven't accomplished anything I've wanted to accomplish in the NFL. I came in with very high hopes. I want to win Super Bowls.
On the end of his Texans career
I'm not bitter at any one person, I'm just mad about how the whole situation panned out. You can point fingers, but in reality we all just didn't get it done. Me, the coaching staff, everybody. It's tough to say what my legacy is there—we didn't do much. We started things, did a lot of firsts. If we could have gone from first Texans touchdown to first Super Bowl appearance, that would have been sweet, but there were too many hiccups.
On brother Derek, a junior QB at Clements High
He's a great guy, great quarterback, great athlete, but I don't want to give him too much pump because his head's going to explode already. We throw the ball around a lot, and I put a lot of pressure on him. He throws better than I did when I was his age, but recently we were playing catch in the yard and talking serious trash to each other. I was like, "You know what? I'm going to stand here, 10, 15 yards from you, and I want you to hit me in the face. I'm not going to move." I gave him three shots, and he missed every time, so the big brother thing gets in his head. He claims that when he gets in the [NFL], he's going to take it to me. I say there's no chance he'll beat me. If I have to go out there and play safety, it's not going to happen. I'm probably the only guy who can get into his head.
On growing up a Cowboys fan
When I was about one or two, my dad [Rodger] had a tryout with the Cowboys to be a punter. He got beat out by Danny White, who could play quarterback and punt. My dad didn't even play [football] in college [Cal State--Bakersfield], he played basketball, and he was just punting balls one day for a workout (he had punted in high school), and there was a Cowboys scout there who saw him and invited him to camp. Pretty cool. That's how we became Cowboys fans.
On marrying Melody at age 19
We met at a church camp in Bakersfield. My grandfather's church had asked me to go up there, and I was reluctant because it was my last year in high school and I wanted to hang out with my friends. But I went, and she was kind of in the same boat. We became good friends, and her parents knew my parents. I don't know why I wanted to [get married] so young—I knew I was eventually going to do it anyway, so I figured, let's go. I hadn't told her I was a football player until I was leaving for college. Then she was like, Oh, you really do play football. I'd just wanted to know that she really liked me for who I was.
PHOTOGRAPH BY AL TIELEMANS
BRIAN A. WESTERHOLT/WIREIMAGE.COM (CARR ACTION)