Harry Carson turns down run for office

TRENTON, N.J. -- Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Harry Carson is taking a pass at running for Congress in New Jersey.

The 58-year-old retired New York Giants great told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he just doesn't have the drive he thinks is needed to do it.

"I did not have the passion to jump in with both feet and change my life and take this on with the same intensity that I played football," Carson said in a phone interview.

Democratic officials asked Carson to run against five-term Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett in a northern New Jersey district. The idea became more attractive after congressional districts were redrawn this winter and Garrett, one of the state's most conservative delegation members, was left without a Democratic challenger.

Although he has never held public office, Carson could afford to bankroll his own campaign and has instant name recognition among sports fans.

"I was really flattered that so many people were urging me -- some were even begging me -- to run that really did give me reason to give it some serious thought," he said.

Carson, who has lived in New Jersey since 1982 and now resides in Franklin Lakes, had been talking to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and local Democrats about the possibility of running. He told Bergen County Democratic officials on Tuesday that he had decided not to run.

Josh Schwerin with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee declined to comment on Carson's decision specifically, but said Democrats "are bullish" on the chance of beating Garrett in November, given that the district has become more left-leaning with redistricting.

Carson spent 13 years with the Giants, from 1976 to 1988, and won a Super Bowl with the team in 1986. Since retiring, he has worked in broadcasting, written two books and started his own consulting and promotions company. He has also been an advocate for concussion awareness.

The recent deaths of his brother and stepfather-in-law made him want to ensure his family was a priority, Carson said, that would be too difficult if he ran.

"If I was 15 years younger, it might be a different situation," he said.