- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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Andre Carter has a simple routine these days: Wake up, help his son do homework, work out and "do whatever my wife tells me." No, he's not retired but he's not far away from it either. Carter spent five seasons in Washington, arriving as a prized free-agent defensive end. He exited after one year as an ill-fitted outside linebacker in a 3-4. In between he recorded 34 sacks, with 10.5 (and four forced fumbles) coming in 2007, which also happened to be a playoff year for Washington. Other than that season, Carter experienced a lot of losing.
Here's what Carter had to say on:
Whether he’d like to play again: I would still like to play. I haven’t officially retired. There’s still that one goal, which is to win Super Bowls. I know I’m not a younger pup, even though I still play like one. I’m realistic how the league moves over; everyone is going younger. My main goal and objective this offseason is to stay in shape, just because I love staying in shape. It gives me something to do. At the same time I have to shift my mind to the future and life after football and continue to make that transition. It’s a healthy balance.
Crossing that line from player to retirement: It’s not hard to cross that line. I talked to one of my former teammates, Bryant Young, after the season and he said what are you going to do? I said if someone wants me to play, I play. He said that’s good if you still have that fire, then by all means go ahead. Guys have said they know when they’re done because they said, ‘I had nothing left in the tank. My body is beat up. I don’t have the patience to keep the offseason training.’ I’m not there yet. I still feel as far as my durability and the knowledge of the game and the love of playing is still there. That’s something I’ll take to heart and know that in the end if a team does want me I’ll be ready.
Life after football: I have been talking to a lot of people I have a relationship with in TV and radio as far as commentating. It’s something I’m constantly working on, the craft of learning how to speak and be engaging, the mechanics of opening your mouth and analyzing the game. One of the good resources I have is [NFL Network’s] Mike Silver and my old high school coach is Tim Ryan. Those two are such a big part of my life. I connected with Tim when the Chargers played the Colts and I saw how he and his colleagues worked on the radio side [for Westwood One]. It was good to see. I wondered can I do this as a career and I was like I know I can. It’s a matter of do you want to do play-by-play or color or the pregame show. So many avenues.
Classes he’s taken to prepare: I’m working with a voice speed coach to try and understand annunciations, little things you may take for granted but are very important if you’re going into TV or radio, to project your voice and make sure you sound clear. I have a low voice so when I look at interviews I cringe because I understand what I’m saying, but does the audience understand what I’m saying? That’s why I’m doing technique exercises and drills, reading out loud. The reps help.
Why he wants to do this: To stay connected to the game. Your foot is still in the door, you’re still having fun, you’re still around the guys. It’s not the locker room, but it’s still fun. So why not? I would love to coach. But coaching is a lot of hours. It’s a big commitment. That’s something I’ll look at down the road once my son [now 6] graduates. Until then I’ll enjoy my family.
The best part about playing in Washington: I enjoyed just meeting the guys that came back, the old-school players. You name it, they were there and that just showed these guys really care about the tradition and really cared about continuing the legacy, that Redskins pride. That’s important. It brings a lot of camaraderie and a sense of pride about yourself. We were not only representing ourselves, but those guys that made the Redskins name.
The toughest part about playing in Washington: For as much talent as we had, it was disappointing when we were unsuccessful. Being with New England gives you a different perspective, especially this year. We had a lot of major injuries and a lot of key guys out. We could have turned it in early. But Bill kept us humble and hungry. He took guys not as talented as the other players who were out, but they worked their butts off. When a group of men believes in one another and you do your job, that’s what we did. We did our job. There’s no secret pill or drink we took. We just focused and tried to outexecute our opponents. If we had taken that mentality [in Washington] and used it to our advantage, who knows what we could have done? Live and learn from experience.
The difference in organizations: One thing the [Patriots] do so well is they evaluate themselves from a coaching standpoint and in evaluating players. But when I got there in 2011, one coach was here had worked there 10 years. Another had been there 12 years. Another guy learning to be an offensive line coach had been there for three or four years. The staff was such a tight-knit group and they worked together. It’s tough when you don’t have consistency in coaches. The philosophy and style changes. The play-calling changes. The scheme changes. It’s like starting over. That’s one of the toughest things from a team standpoint to go through. With the Patriots, you knew who we had and who they could trust and when you have that consistency it makes things so much easier.