Warszawski: Fresno fans must learn to share Derek Carr

The Fresno BeeMay 3, 2014 

Folks around Fresno have adopted Derek Carr and his family, but soon fans in some NFL market will want their share of the ex-Fresno State quarterback's attention.


To some people, sharing comes naturally.

It didn't for me.

My earliest memory in this department is of my little sister frowning at me while declaring, "You must share, Marek! You must share!"

I can't recall what my 6-year-old self was keeping from her -- probably a cookie or candy bar. What's clear is that she wanted some, and I wanted it all to myself.

Until now, Fresno State fans have had Derek Carr all to themselves.

Carr has been their guy, and no one else's. But not for much longer. Like it or not, they're going to have to share him.

Sometime this week -- Thursday night, if he is drafted in the first round - Carr will become property of an NFL team.

He'll have a new uniform (maybe even with a new number on it), new coaches, new teammates and a new legion of fans.

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Besides the obvious stuff like Carr's lineage and alma mater, these new fans won't know much about him.

They won't know his childhood dream was to play point guard for Duke.

They didn't watch the television interview where a 10-year-old Derek steals the show from older brother, David.

They can't appreciate that Carr met his wife, Heather, a former Fresno Christian High cheerleader, while she was waiting tables at B.J.'s.

They didn't send thoughts and prayers last fall after Dallas Carr was born with an intestinal birth defect and needed multiple surgeries.

They haven't experienced how Carr always takes time to sign autographs for fans or pose for pictures, and never seems put off when people ask.

Unlike Carr's old fans, these newbies will be starting from scratch. But they'll be eager learners. They'll want to find out everything they can about their new quarterback. And they'll take delight in each discovery.

What about Fresno State fans, the ones who have supported him at every step? It means they're now in a ride share -- a Carr pool, if you will.

So scoot over. There's room in the back seat for everyone.

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During the past three years, Derek Carr achieved a level of sports stardom not seen in these parts since David Carr was the NFL's No. 1 overall pick.

The central San Joaquin Valley doesn't have pro sports and isn't home to rock stars or famous actors. The Carr brothers are the closest thing.

That level of adulation isn't just going to go away because Derek Carr is playing in another region of the country. No way.

Just like in 2002, when No. 8 Texans jerseys started popping up everywhere, the same phenomenon is about to occur.

Ryan Cope will be one of those wearing one. In real life, Cope is a 32-year-old IT supervisor from Bakersfield. On Twitter, he's known as @DerekCarrFan. (Yes, Carr follows him.)

Cope already has asked his wife for a certain Father's Day gift: a Carr NFL jersey. While crossing his fingers the Vikings don't take him with the No. 8 pick.


"Because I don't want to wear purple," he said.

Cope won't just be wearing the jersey. He also intends to make Carr's new team his second favorite in the NFL behind the 49ers.

(Don't chuckle. I know a guy who remains a Buccaneers fan to this day because of Trent Dilfer -- even though Dilfer hasn't worn a pewter helmet since 1999.)

This is where things could get messy. Twelve years ago, the Texans were an expansion team. Wearing their jersey was harmless. But several mock drafts I've seen have the Cardinals drafting Carr at No. 20.

Would Cope, a lifelong 49ers fan, really wear the jersey of an NFC West rival?

"Oh, man," he said. "That'd be tough. That'd be real tough."

Not to mention the worst possible scenario: What if Carr gets drafted by the Seahawks?

"I don't even want to think about that," Cope said.

OK, so there isn't much chance the Seahawks take Carr. My hunch: He either goes No. 20 to the Cardinals (swallow hard, 49ers fans) or No. 24 to the Browns with their second pick in the first round.

But who knows? More than anything, Carr's old fans, his Fresno State fans, just want him to enjoy a long, successful pro career.

Which is the main thing they have in common with new fans who will be hopping aboard.

Here's the biggest difference: Carr's old fans are devoted to him forever, no matter what happens from this day forward. The new ones are all about this day forward. Their devotion comes with attached strings.

Case in point: David Carr is a lot more beloved in Fresno than he is in Houston. Doesn't matter that they put him behind an offensive line of five statues.

Keep that in mind this week when Derek Carr travels to his new team's city, gets interviewed by his new team's media and flashes his megawatt smile to his new team's fans.

Fresno State fans aren't losing him. They just have to share.

Hopefully, more willingly than I did at age 6.

The columnist can be reached at (559) 441-6218, marekw@fresnobee.com or @MarekTheBee on Twitter.

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