Florence, S.C. became an extension of the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Thursday as legendary New York Giants linebacker Harry Carson was honored by the Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance Company as part of the “Hometown Hall of Famers™” program. Carson was honored with a plaque dedication ceremony at Wilson High School, his alma mater, where the plaque will remain on permanent display.
Carson, who was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006, spoke to students about key lessons learned from his experiences.
“No one could have told me when I was young that I would have these opportunities, but the people who cared about me gave me words of encouragement that stayed with me every time I stepped on the field,” said Carson. “My message to the students here today is that you do have the opportunity to be a Hall of Famer in whatever profession you choose to pursue.”
Additional event speakers including Rich Champranis, a local sports broadcaster and longtime Carson fan; Aja Carson-Gurley, Carson’s daughter; Mark Hanna, Allstate representative; Rev. Merrit Graves; and Dr. Gerald Edwards, principal of Wilson High School spoke about Carson’s impact on Florence, his friends and family, and on football. Notable attendees included S.C. Congressman James Clyburn and Stephen Wukela, the mayor of Florence.
“Harry Carson is not only an ambassador for the game of football, but a role model for the students of Wilson High School,” said Brock Richards, program director for Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises. “The Hometown Hall of Fame plaque will serve as a lasting reminder to students about what they can achieve through hard work and dedication.”
After excelling as a student-athlete in high school, Carson went on to play football at South Carolina State University where he never missed a single game during his four years as a defensive end for the Bulldogs. Carson became the first player in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference to be named Defensive Player of the Year for two consecutive years. He also led his team to consecutive conference championships and was enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
Carson was selected in the fourth round by the New York Giants in the 1976 NFL Draft. During his 13-year pro career as a dominant linebacker he totaled 14 fumble recoveries and 11 interceptions. Carson led his team in tackles five times, was voted to nine Pro Bowls, and named first- or second-team All-Pro six times. He helped lead the Giants to their first-ever Super Bowl victory, a 39-20 win over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI.
“To be part of a program that brings the prestige and tradition of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to cities like Florence is an honor for Allstate, our agents and employees," said Lisa Cochrane, Allstate's senior vice president of marketing.
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