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Harry Carson Touts Ottis Anderson For Hall of Fame

Ask Hall of Fame middle linebacker Harry Carson which former New York Giants teammate should join him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and he doesn't hesitate with his answer.

"The No. 1 guy who I would vote for is Ottis Anderson," Carson said. "While Ottis and I did not play together for an extended period of time (only 1987 and '88) I played against Ottis, so I have a very good understanding of what he brought to the table as a running back when he was with the Cardinals.

"I hated facing him because he was a big back, but he had speed, quickness, power and escapability."

The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced the 2011 candidates for enshrinement on Monday, and Carson was one of several Hall of Famers making the rounds to promote the second annual Van Heusen Pro Football Hall of Fame Fan's Choice campaign. The Fan's Choice campaign gives fans a chance to vote for the five players they believe are worthy of being Hall of Famers.

There are currently 113 nominees on the ballot, and the selection committee will pair that down to 25 semifinalists by mid-November. The final 15 candidates will be announced in mid-January.

The Fan's Choice campaign has no official role in the process. You can, however, win prizes and see how your choices stack up against those players eventually selected as Hall of Famers. You can vote as often as you like.

Four Giants are on the 113-nominee list. Anderson, tight end Mark Bavaro, quarterback Phil Simms and general manager George Young.

Anderson is 24th on the all-time career rushing list with 10,273 yards in a 15-year career.

Of course, I had to talk a little Giants with Carson, who was in attendance Sunday for the first regular-season game at New Meadowlands Stadium.

Carson, remember, was a vocal critic of the Giants effort at the end of last season. He felt much better about what he saw against Carolina, however.

"The guys remember what happened last year. When you get beaten and embarrassed the one thing you want to do is hurry back to redeem yourself," Carson said. "Stepping on the field yesterday (Sunday) was an opportunity for these guys to make people forget about what happened and how they closed Giants Stadium.

"While they didn't play great football yesterday they played good football. They played well enough to win, but I think they're going to have to jack it up another notch as they move forward."

I also talked with Carson about the struggles of the young linebacker Clint Sintim. The second-year linebacker is transitioning from defensive end in college, and Carson is the perfect person to discuss that change. Remember, Carson was a defensive end at South Carolina State before the Giants drafted him in 1976 and made him a middle linebacker.

"If you draft a player and you want to bring that player along to play a different position you've gotta be aware that that player might be a challenge," Carson said. "You're on the NFL level. Everybody's fast, everybody's quick, everybody's strong. There's not a whole lot of room for error."

Carson credited Marty Schottenheimer, who was the Giants linebackers coach when Carson was drafted, with teaching him how to play the position.

"Before I even stepped on the practice field I had to spend like a month with Marty, just me and him, and he exposed me to all the nuances of being a middle linebacker," Carson said.

"You're always going to go through growing pains when you're changing positions," said Carson, who became a starter mid-way through his rookie season. "When I started I made mistakes. You find yourself being exploited, whether it's a draw play or play-action pass or whatever until you can stop it.

"It's gonna be up to him whether he's going to make that transition or perhaps bulk up and go back to playing a position he's more familiar with as a defensive lineman."

Finally, Carson and I talked briefly about some of what Carson is doing right now, what he refers to as "the business of being Harry Carson."

He is involved in many things, including a new show called 'Opening Drive Live' at 9:30 a.m. on MSG Network. He is also writing a book that should be available next year. In addition, he works with the NFL on behalf of minority groups and retired players.

If you want to know more, you can check out Carson's website.

Below is just a little bonus for you, since thinking about Anderson made me think about Super Bowl XXV.

(E-mail Ed at Follow Big Blue View on Twitter.)