Hall of Fame linebacker Harry Carson sizes up Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes ahead of Super Bowl 55

The New York Giants were like a train engine rolling downhill to close the 1986 season, winning every game from Oct. 19 through Super Bowl 21 and creating a now-familiar image on NFL sidelines.

As the final seconds of games ticked off, Harry Carson could be been seen creeping toward head coach Bill Parcells before dousing him with a cooler full of Gatorade, often on the frigid sidelines of New Jersey.

It was amid the warm breezes of Pasadena, though, that Carson, wearing a security jacket so he could properly sneak up on his coach, became Super Bowl champion when he got Parcells moments before the Giants’ 39-20 win over the Denver Broncos.

It was completion of an 11-season journey from his rookie year of 1976 when, as a self-described “country bumpkin” from South Carolina, he worried whether he could make it as he learned his new position of middle linebacker.

Harry Carson, NFL Hall of Famer and New York Giants legend talks about the beginning of the phase 1A COVID-19 vaccination effort (Photo: Mitsu Yasukawa, USA TODAY Network)

Carson quickly became known for his toughness and lasted in the NFL until 1988. His 13-year Hall of Fame career, in which he played in 173 games, was durable by any standard. Except, perhaps, Tom Brady’s.

When he received an award Feb 2. for community service at the annual Thurman Munson Dinner in New York, Carson took the opportunity to marvel at how Brady still excels at 43 during his 21st NFL season. Carson also sized up Super Bowl 55, zeroing in on the quarterback matchup between Brady, 43, and the Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, 25:

"When I played, Parcells always said, 'You know before anybody else when it’s time to go.' And I left when I was 36. But I felt like I had maybe another five years in me if I really, really, really wanted to play. But I didn’t want to push myself to do that just to be shown out the door at some point during my career. But I can’t help but admire Brady being the player that he is. The guy could probably play until he’s 50 if he really wants to play that long.

"You have Tom Brady, who basically has willed himself to do things that perhaps no other pro quarterback  has done. He’s playing as good now as he has played over the years and he’s doing it having changed teams and so forth. And so it’s going to be interesting to see how that works out.

"But then the other thing is Patrick Mahomes. To see this guy and the talent that he brings to football is really, really something special. I’ve played and I’ve been around football for a long time and some of the stuff that he does, I don’t think I’ve ever really seen in my career and in my lifetime. It’s gonna be, in my opinion, Brady and Mahomes and it has to come down to the defenses being able to stop the arsenal of the Kansas City Chiefs because Mahomes is good, but he’s got really, really great talent around him with Travis Kelce, the receivers that he has and the running backs that he has – those are special guys.

"I don’t want to pick anyone for the game because I see how it’s going to go. It’s gonna come down to perhaps a turnover here and there and if a team is going to be able to capitalize off the turnover."

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