Long before Boise State University alumnus Chris Carr was signed by the Oakland Raiders as a free agent, before his 100-yard interception for a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers or his brief tenure with New Orleans Saints, his plans included earning a law degree.
Today, the 36-year-old father of three practices immigration law with a firm in Virginia. That path began in a constitutional law class at Boise State.
“Professor Todd Lochner is one of the best professors I had and he convinced me that I needed to go to law school one day,” Carr said. “I have a lot of fond memories of Boise State.”
At the time, the 2005 political science graduate was also a starring defensive back and returner for the Broncos.
“I enjoyed that course more than I enjoyed football, and at the time, I loved football.”
– Chris Carr
“I was going to class every day, and when I did well on an exam, I enjoyed that more than I enjoyed scoring a touchdown or doing anything on the football field. From those experiences in my law class, I knew, I was going to go to law school.”
Lochner, who now teaches at Lewis and Clark University, Portland, recalls Carr’s dedication, professionalism and maturity in being able to balance his obligations to his team and sport, and his studies.
“Every weekend he faced enormous mental and physical challenges in a high-stress environment that most students can only imagine,” Lochner said. “But then come Monday, he would show up to constitutional law having done the reading – carefully and thoroughly – and improving the class with his comments and insights. So, in a sense what most struck me was his ability to excel both on and off the field in a way that seemed effortless – even though it surely was not. Few students, few adults, possess such discipline.”
While Carr was dedicated to playing well and succeeding in academics, he said his time at Boise State provided an opportunity for personal growth – lessons he would draw upon during his subsequent NFL career and law school.
“It was the first time I had to face adversity in the sense where things didn’t come easy for me before, especially football-wise,” Carr said. “Before Boise State, I was the best out of a lot of people in high school. But I came here, and I realized that my technique at cornerback wasn’t very good, so I really had to learn how to trust and just worry about the process – just worry about the things that you can control little by little, day in and day out. And eventually, I became a really good football player.”
Carr’s ability to successfully manage his college athletic and academic careers earned him the Pat Fuller Memorial Award for Academic Achievement. Following graduation in 2005, he went on to sign with the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted free agent.
“I think of the lessons I learned at Boise State and how they helped me in my NFL career because I initially wasn’t seen as someone that was a starter,” he said. “But I knew – kind of like Boise State – little-by-little you can convince people that you’re good enough.”
Carr had a solid nine-year NFL career, leaving the game following the 2013 season. He then applied his Boise State and NFL experience toward earning his juris doctor in 2017 from George Washington University School of Law.
Carr admits his football career provided him with financial resources that most law students don’t have. He also acknowledges that success often comes from the help of others.
He and his wife Sarah, (BS, health sciences, ’03) have funded a scholarship at Boise State within the Honors College. The Chris and Sarah Carr Honors College Scholarship provides support to honors students, regardless of course of study.
“As alumni, we give a lot to Boise State, but Boise State gave a lot to us and it feels good to give back.”
– Chris Carr
Scholarships help students become future leaders and driving forces of positive change.
“We are grateful for Chris and Sarah’s gift, which allows hard-working students to take every advantage of their education,” said Honors College Dean Andrew Finstuen. “Chris has also given of his own time by speaking with our students about discipline, excellence, and leadership. This potent combination of financial and personal generosity is transformative for our students.”
“I’ve always liked to give back and help people out,” Carr said. “I’ve had my own experience of being a student and on a scholarship.”