DETROIT (Feb. 5, 2006) -- Harry Carson once asked to be taken out of consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Now, as one of its newest members, he's ready for the induction ceremony.
"I was never disenchanted with the Hall of Fame," Carson said on a conference call from Hawaii, where he is vacationing. "I was always disenchanted with the process.
"Obviously, I will show up. The whole process sort of being sour, but you look at the support I had, for me not to show up would be disrespecting those people who really went to bat for me."
Carson, a linebacker who retired from the New York Giants in 1988, sent a letter to Hall of Fame officials in Canton, Ohio, several years ago criticizing the selection methods, believing former players and Hall members should vote rather than the media.
Carson was a six-time finalist before finally breaking through on Feb. 4, joining Reggie White, Troy Aikman, Warren Moon, John Madden and Rayfield Wright as the Class of 2006.
"I feel very adamant about being removed from the process, not that I didn't want to be in the Hall," he said. "The Hall is a tremendous honor.
"Initially, I was thrilled about being even recognized as a potential Hall of Famer. As each year went by, it lost some of its luster because of the process -- not the Hall, but the whole process involved in the selection and because it was so public."
Carson spoke with former Steelers defensive end L.C. Greenwood, another player who has been on the ballot for years without getting elected. After concluding that "somebody needs to fall on the sword and I don't have a problem falling on the sword," he asked the Hall to disregard him in the future.
But he remained on the ballot and the 39 media members chose him this year.
And Carson plans to be in Canton on the weekend of Aug. 5-6 for his enshrinement. He said he owes it to family, friend, fans and, perhaps most of all, to the late Wellington Mara, owner of the Giants.
"Where I had a change of heart was where Mr. Mara passed away," he said. "I know how strongly he felt about me being a Hall of Famer and I knew that if it did come, that I couldn't tarnish his memory, because it is something he wanted for me. I would never embarrass his memory, the Giants organization or the National Football League."
Carson was on a flight to Honolulu when the Hall of Fame announcement was made. He didn't find out about his selection until he was in the airport baggage claim area and a youngster came up to congratulate him.
At first, Carson was hesitant to say anything because he had not heard any official word. A few years ago, while he was playing golf in San Diego, an Atlanta radio station called Carson to congratulate him on his selection. But 45 minutes later, the broadcaster called back to apologize for being wrong -- Carson had not been chosen.
After he received confirmation, Carson said, "It's sort of difficult to put into words the whole concept of what I am feeling right now."
He added that being chosen to nine Pro Bowls was the biggest honor he's received because, back then, the players did the voting.
Then he recalled some advice his mother once gave him.
"My mom used to say, 'Give me my flowers while I can smell them.' I got the same feeling when I found out how those players felt. It was as if they gave me my flowers."