Maurice Carthon (1961–)

Maurice Carthon is a former professional football player who earned two Super Bowl rings along with serving as a coach for several teams in the National Football League (NFL). Before beginning his lengthy career in professional athletics, he was a top-rated football and basketball player during high school and college in Arkansas.

Maurice Carthon was born on April 24, 1961, in Chicago, Illinois. He and his mother, Jessie Mae Carthon, moved to Osceola (Mississippi County), where he attended Osceola High School, a Class AAA school. Lettering in both basketball and football, he was a two-time high school All-Conference honoree in football, playing the position of tight end. He was also a two-year starter on the school’s basketball team. Carthon was chosen during his senior year for the all-conference and all-state basketball team as well as being selected the most valuable player in the state basketball tournament.

After graduating from high school in 1978, Carthon accepted a football scholarship from Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County). In college, he was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

With Larry Lacewell as his coach, Carthon played football at ASU from 1979 to 1982. During his college years, Carthon started every game during his final three seasons. In 1981 and 1982, he was named an All-Southland Conference player. As a junior, he led the team in rushing, with 678 yards on 153 carries. During his senior year, he was the team captain, leading the team in rushing yards.

Among his honors, Carthon was named to the Southland Conference 1980’s all-decade team. In 1991, he was inducted into the ASU athletic Hall of Honor, also being named to the ASU Ring of Honor in 2002. In 2005, Carthon was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, among such fellow inductees that year as Scottie Pippen.

After leaving ASU, Carthon played three seasons with the New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League (USFL) after being chosen in the eighth round of the 1983 USFL draft. Following legendary player Herschel Walker, who was his roommate, Carthon was the second-leading rusher for the Generals. In 1983, he led the USFL with three successful two-point conversions, and in 1984 Carthon gained 1,042 yards for an average of 4.4 yards per carry, made twenty receptions, and scored eleven touchdowns.

After a final playoff game with the Generals in June 1985, Carthon signed as a free agent with the NFL’s New York Giants. Reporting to the Giants in July, Carthon then played five preseason games, sixteen regular season matches, and two playoff rounds, totaling forty-five games in less than a year for his combined USFL and NFL season.

He missed only one game out of seventy-six during his career with the Giants. Playing at 225 pounds with a height of six feet and one inch, at various times he held the position of running back and fullback. He earned two championship rings when the Giants won Super Bowl XXI (1987) and Super Bowl XXV (1991).

After playing for the New Jersey Generals from 1983 to 1985, and the New York Giants from 1985 to 1991, he joined the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts in 1992, which would mark his final year as a player. Carthon retired after the 1992 season with NFL career statistics that included 950 rushing yards, ninety receptions for 745 yards, and three touchdowns.

He then moved to coaching positions in the NFL, starting as running backs coach with the New England Patriots (1994–1996). He became running backs coach for the New York Jets (1997–2000) before taking on the role of offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions (2001–2002) and Dallas Cowboys (2003–2004). During this time, Carthon became known as a “Parcells guy” for his long-time professional relationship with NFL coach Bill Parcells, who was Carthon’s coach as a player with the Giants. The two men worked together on the coaching staff of the NFL’s Patriots, Jets, and Cowboys.

Carthon was offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns, where he worked in 2005 and 2006. He returned to being a running backs coach for the Arizona Cardinals (2007–2008) before being named assistant head coach for the Kansas City Chiefs, serving in that position from 2009 to 2012.

After the 2012 season, Carthon retired as a professional football player and coach. His son Ran Carthon followed in his footsteps, playing as a running back for the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions as well as serving in executive positions for the Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, and St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams.

In 1987, Carthon was honored by the Arkansas General Assembly in a Senate resolution that commended “his outstanding athletic ability and sportsmanship, and for the favorable publicity he has brought to the state of Arkansas.”

In 2019 he returned to Arkansas, moving to Jonesboro. For a time, he served as a volunteer football coach at Osceola High School. He later suffered a stroke from which he recovered.

For additional information:
Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. (accessed October 18, 2022).

“Arkansas State Ring of Honor.” Arkansas State Athletics. (accessed October 18, 2022).

“Maurice Carthon.” American Football Database. (accessed October 18, 2022).

“Maurice Carthon.” National Football League. (accessed October 18, 2022).

“Maurice Carthon.” Pro Football Reference. (accessed October 18, 2022).

“Maurice Carthon Coaching Record.” Pro Football (accessed October 18, 2022).

Reed, Jeff. “Carthon Back at His Football Roots in Osceola.” 24/7 Sports, September 18, 2019.–135795758 (accessed October 18, 2022).

Schwartz, Paul. “Giants Wrap up First-Round GM Interviews with Son of Two-Time Super Bowl Champion.” New York Post, January 17, 2022. (accessed October 18, 2022).

“Senate Resolution Commending Mr. Maurice Carthon from Osceola, Arkansas,” Arkansas Legislature. (accessed October 18, 2022).

Nancy Hendricks
Garland County Historical Society


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