Although Chad Ochocinco and the since released Albert Haynesworth got all the headlines, it's the other guy the Patriots signed this off-season who's struck a winning chord.
Andre Carter set a New England franchise record for sacks in a game with 4 1/2 in the Pats' 37-16 beatdown of the New York Jets last weekend. Carter is quietly tied for fourth in the National Football League with nine sacks, while racking up 38 tackles for the struggling Pats defense.
But Carter has been playing piano for a decade longer than he's been chasing after quarterbacks. The 6-4, 255-pound rusher can thank his mother for that. The Boston Globe reports it was Carter's mom who encouraged him at the tender age of five to take piano lessons.
"My mom made sure I practiced so that I wouldn't make a fool out of myself when the piano teacher came on Saturday," Carter told the Globe. "I loved it and I got good at it."
Carter's father, Rubin, was a defensive lineman for the late 1970's and early 80's Denver Broncos' legendary Orange Crush defense. Carter points out his old man also had the music gene.
"My dad played guitar," Carter says. "He could also jam. We listened to Quincy Jones, Anita Baker, Stevie Wonder, and Ray Charles. John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Harry Belafonte. It was good music. I love Frank Sinatra, Elton John, especially on the piano."
Although his parents inspired his taste in music, they didn't exactly want him to follow in his old man's footsteps on the gridiron; both had other ideas.
"My dad didn't want me to play football because it was a violent sport," Carter says. "He wanted me to play tennis or basketball. I remember him coming home hurt. My mom wanted me to be a model. She'd say, 'Look at your figure, you've got a nice figure.' But that ain't going to happen, mom."
The skills required as a pianist and defensive lineman are surprisingly similar in one respect: both demand good hands. "Piano is more at peace, D-lineman is more violent," he says. "If you don't have good hands, you won't get to the quarterback."
Carter went unnoticed on Monday as he played the baby grand piano at a Foxborough movie theater located at Patriot Place. The Pats defensive lineman played tunes from Mies Davis ("So What?") and Bruce Hornsby ("That's Just The Way It Is") without the assistance of sheet music.
Although he's in the football business now, Carter, 32, knows shelf life is limited in the NFL. So he's thinking about giving it a go in the world of music. "If I practice long enough and hard enough," he says, "I might come out with an album like [former Saints tackle] Kyle Turley or [former Yankees center fielder] Bernie Williams.
Andre Carter says he got his work ethic from his father.
While with the Redskins, Carter showed off his keyboard skills.
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