Wednesday Derek Carr found out he would be heading to the Pro Bowl, taking the place of the injured Aaron Rodgers. Carr was a first alternate for the team after a second season that saw him throw for 3987 yards and 32 touchdowns.
His leap from rookie season to second season was a big one, throwing for 717 more yards and 11 more touchdowns while the Raiders added 4 more wins to finish 7-9 on the season.
Carr attributes that jump to the work he has put in during the offseason. He said that after his rookie season that saw the Raiders go 3-13 that he felt like the team had left a lot on the field - a feeling he didn't have after last season.
It takes a rare type of athlete to put in that kind of work and see the fruits of that labor pay off as Carr did last season. So, when he appeared on Bay Area radio station 95.7 The Game on Thursday and was asked if there were an athlete from another sport with whom he compared himself. The always confident Carr went with long time Lakers great Kobe Bryant.
"As a football player I would definitely say Kobe just because of the mentality," said Carr. "And that's not me being funny or silly. He is my favorite athlete of all time. I used to watch his movies, his youtube videos, documentaries, everything. I thought he was the most competitive person I've ever seen and I wanted to be just that competitive. Just to have the grit, the determination to work hard, train, do all the things that your body doesn't want to do."
Following Kobe Bryant's announcement earlier this season that he would be retiring after this season, Carr - a Southern California native himself (Bakersfield) - tweeted his thoughts on the news.
This admiration Carr has for Kobe, as well as his status as a starting NFL QB for two solid seasons, led to getting to meet his sports hero. Afterward getting to spend some time with Kobe, the star struck young quarterback tweeted out this picture of the two of them together and thanked Kobe for everything.
"Kobe, man, that dude has motivated me since I was little," Carr beamed. "Just talking to him, spending a little bit of time with him that we did, he motivated me even more."
As far as the work ethic and drive for greatness is concerned, you won't find a better player to emulate than Kobe. Add that Carr is well-liked by his teammates and is about as high character a person as you'll find - two areas in which Kobe has received much criticism throughout his career - and you have a good combination for success.