Derek Carr is making plenty of money as the Oakland Raiders starting quarterback and he wants to make sure he’s giving some of it back.
Carr signed a five-year, $125 million contract in 2017, which is also reportedly backloaded so he’ll make more of the contract once the team moves the tax-friendly state of Nevada next season. Grateful for making money playing football, Carr wants to make sure others feel a similar blessing.
“When we were blessed to play in the NFL, it’s creating opportunities for other people,” Carr told Front Office Sports. “We want to create community and opportunity.”
Growing up in California’s Central Valley with friends from “tough backgrounds,” an important effort by Carr and his wife, Heather, is the Derek and Heather Carr Scholarship for Fresno State University – where he played college football. The first scholarship was awarded to JJ Pino, who best exemplified what the Carrs were looking for.
“Sometimes, the notion is athletes are the only ones that get scholarships, and it’s easy to forget that’s only a tiny percentage of people who get to that,” Carr said. “Heather and I felt it was important to help pay it forward to someone who works their tail off, shows leadership and needs help.
“It was really about creating an opportunity for someone who wants to make a difference in this world.”
Carr said it was obvious Pino was the choice in the way he could see how much it meant to him. As the scholarship is still new, Carr said they’re still feeling out what the future holds for it — whether it needs more money in the fund, maybe it opens to more students per year.
“When I was able to talk to [Pino], we told him we wanted to do it for him, but also, when he gets in a position, to come back and help people,” Carr said. “It’s about creating generations of people to come back and help others.”
Along with ensuring future generations receive opportunities, the Carrs want to ensure children reach those opportunities. Valley Children’s Healthcare is the focus of many of the Carrs’ endeavors, because of an experience with their eldest child, Dallas.
While the couple was still in college, Dallas required three surgeries to fix intestinal malrotation.
“Whenever I get the chance, I’m going to help them,” Carr said. “We were poor college students, not knowing how much it would cost. Sure enough, Dallas was taken care of.
“If you have extra funds, it can make a huge difference.”
Among the campaigns for Valley Children’s Healthcare is the DC4KIDS Touchdown Challenge, which funds immediate needs for the system that cares for the 1.3 million children in the 12-county coverage area. The challenge is a membership, starting with a $2,500 donation, that gives fans a swag bag, invite to a reception, and recognition in The Fresno Bee and various social media channels.
Additionally, the DC4 Gold Ribbon T-shirt campaign runs through December, raising money to help place a focus on childhood cancer.
If he’s smart with the money he makes in football, it should last generations – something he actually talked about with rookie teammates on the HBO show Hard Knocks – but he’s still got plenty of business ventures, including commercial real estate and startup investments. His business ventures are in conjunction with Heather and his brother, former NFL quarterback David Carr.
He doesn’t like to talk about those as much.
“We have a lot of business ventures that I don’t care if people know about,” Carr said. “The important thing is giving back to people who need it.”
Whether it’s his business or charitable endeavors, Carr has the same ethos, along with Heather and David Carr.
“Anything I’m associated with, we make sure we believe in it,” Carr said. “The message has to be what my brother, wife and I believe in. If people believe in us, they can believe in what we support.”
The care and community building stretch beyond the Central Valley and into building relationships with his fans worldwide through is video gaming. A big gamer in the offseason, Carr noticed his nephews watching others play games on the internet.
His YouTube channel has more than 37,400 subscribers and he said this coming offseason there will be a stronger focus on live streams and connecting further with fans.
“Sometimes, I’ll invite fans in a private match and just the joy they get out of it, it’s so fun to compete and have fun with anyone across the globe,” he said. “I want to take it to another level. If I was a kid and one of my favorite quarterbacks was playing with me, that would motivate me to do it someday for another kid.”