Former Panthers quarterback David Carr knows what it's like to be on top of the football world and knows what it's like to have the football world on top of him.
The first overall pick by the expansion Houston Texans in the 2002 NFL Draft following a remarkable statistical season at Fresno State, Carr endured heavy criticism throughout a recently concluded pro career that often failed to meet outside expectations.
The Texans hold the first overall pick in this year's draft, and another Carr is in the draft pool following a flashy season at Fresno State. No one expects Houston to select Derek Carr at No. 1, but he easily could follow in his brother's footsteps as a first-round pick.
The comparisons between David and Derek are inevitable, but Derek Carr isn't worried about that after comparing notes with his older brother.
"The number-one thing my brother has taught me is, 'You're going to be praised a lot, you're going to be criticized. Ignore both because neither matter,'" Derek Carr said. "Just work hard, be yourself, trust the people around you that care about you. Listen to them and continue to work hard like you do."
As a senior at Fresno State in 2001, David Carr threw for nearly 5,000 yards and 46 touchdowns with just nine interceptions. He spent his first five NFL seasons with the fledgling Texans, often running for his life behind a struggling offensive line, and never recaptured the magic of his college days. Still, he played in the NFL for more than a decade, including one season for Carolina in 2007, before the New York Giants waived him last August.
"Well, there's no expansion team," Derek Carr said. "That's a great thing. That's one thing we're fired up about."
While David Carr passed for 14,452 yards and 65 touchdowns in the NFL, Derek Carr threw for 12,842 yards and 113 touchdowns at Fresno, including more than 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns with just eight interceptions as a senior.
Those senior stats are strikingly similar to his older brother's numbers, and the comparison doesn't end there.
"Physically, we're the same build," Derek Carr said. "He's probably eight more pounds. We run the same. We throw a little different, but we have the same mannerisms.
"At the same time, we're different. Our personalities are different. I'm a little more open. He keeps to himself. We're different in a lot of ways."
Derek Carr has benefitted from being around his brother, from being in the same room and observing the way David Carr handled interviews to finding himself in the film room from age 12 on.
But you get the feeling that David would be important in Derek's life whether either played football because of how Derek lives his life.
"My priorities in life are my faith, my family and then football," said Carr, who quickly adds that having football third on his priority list shouldn't scare teams away. "You can say whatever you want about me, but I'm going to give everything I have to whatever team I'm on."
Carr's faith was tested last August when Dallas, the first child for Carr and his wife, Heather, was born with twisted intestines. Dallas' life hung in the balance through multiple surgeries that kept him in the hospital for the first 23 days of his life, but he emerged healthy and Carr emerged stronger and even more prepared for the next chapter in his life.
"He's a trooper. I get choked up talking about it now," Carr said. "I've been through some adversity. For doctors to tell me my son might not live, there is nothing anyone can do or say that can affect me."