Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr headlined the 52nd annual Governor's Dinner on Wednesday evening in Carson City.
The former Fresno State standout was surprised the Wolf Pack asked him to speak at the dinner knowing how deep rivalries can run, but he was honored to help out the Nevada athletics department for its top fundraiser of the summer. Carr, who is going on his eighth year in the NFL, declined the speaker honorarium and asked all funds be donated to the Wolf Pack athletics department.
"I'm all about helping athletics," Carr said. "Sports has obviously changed my life, has changed my wife's life, sports is gonna change my children's life and their children's life because we've been blessed to do it at a high level. I want to be able to give those opportunities to everybody, you know, I have not just my boys, but I have a daughter too, and to be able to give those opportunities to men's and women's sports, it's a great opportunity, and if it doesn't do anything else than just to be around people from all different walks of life and have friends that will last lifetimes.
"I have college teammates that come see me all the time in Las Vegas that live in New York or live in California, and it's, it's really cool that sports has done that. So I didn't need to accept anything, I want to be able to give back a little bit of what I can, here in Nevada, even though I may root for the Bulldogs every now and then."
Carr and his family have embraced living in the Silver State, as he and his wife are California natives. He added how passionate the Bay Area fan base is with so many diehards. But with a handful of professional sports teams, he felt like his was in college again when the Raiders moved to Las Vegas because the whole state has supported his team.
"Whether I'm in Tahoe, Carson City or Reno or Vegas, Henderson wherever I'm at, people are just like 'You're our team,'" Carr said. "'This is what what we're here to do is to support you and help you in any way'. The way I've seen people treat my wife and treat my children is really just been beautiful to me. That's what I care about the most. It reminded me a lot of my my time in Texas, you know, when I lived in Houston, everyone's so friendly, waving at you, opening doors for you, and I was like, that's kind of what I'm used to."
The two-time Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year reflected on his time with the Bulldogs when playing against the Wolf Pack and joked about how he remembers the times where he was hit the most and how cold it was playing in the Mountain West. Carr, who went 2-1 against Nevada during his time at Fresno State, recalled playing at Mackay Stadium his junior year.
"It felt like negative-8 and windy, and I go to walk on the field with my cleats and the field was frozen, and I was praying that I did not get hit that day, I'm not not trying to land on this concrete," Carr joked. "I remember playing against a lot of very, very talented football players that played in the NFL for a long time. They have them coming every year it seems like, but some of the people get mad at me, I do remember diving in with one hand for a touchdown, and d maybe that's why I fumbled a couple times the NFL, I got too used to it in college. But I think of all the memories against playing against some of the friends I had, it's a rivalry, we're not supposed to have friends, but we were all buddies. I just remember talking trash with those guys and having those good memories, but I'll never forget how cold it was. It doesn't get like that in Fresno. 32 (degrees) is about as cold as it gets in Fresno."
Carr was drafted the Raiders in the second round of the 2014 draft. He was asked what advice he gives to players in the Mountain West who are vying to get drafted one day. One of those is expected to be Nevada’s Carson Strong, who also grew up in California and is a Raiders fan.
“Just keep working hard, Carr said. “Don't worry about where you're drafted, don't worry about all that stuff. The main thing I tell guys all the time is when they're looking when they do see that they could potentially play in the NFL is, especially from the Mountain West, don't worry that's going to come, don't worry about all that if, if you're good enough, they'll find you anywhere. We hear stories about guys coming from small schools all the time. But the daily reminder is to just work hard, be a great teammate, be a blessing, not a burden to your to your community, and work your tail off.”