Candid Carey meets elementary students

Feb 01, 2017 | by Brad Ellis, The Explorer

Jeanette Pagel is a huge fan of Kadeem Carey. As a supporter of Canyon Del Oro, the University of Arizona and the Chicago Bears, she has been following the running back for the past decade. It was only fitting that Carey would take the time to come out and speak to Pagel’s fifth grade class at Ironwood Elementary.

Pagel’s son played in the CDO band, and she first saw Carey play for the Dorados as a freshman. Years later she watched in glee as her Chicago Bears selected Carey in the fourth round of the NFL Draft and went out to buy a Carey No. 25 jersey. She was wearing that jersey when Carey came out to her class.

Carey stayed with the kids for over an hour. After a brief talk he answered the students’ questions and then stayed and posed for pictures and signed autographs.

The ever confident Carey was quite forthcoming with the students, going so far to say that despite a slow start to his career, he still believes that he will play in a Pro Bowl and eventually be in the Hall of Fame.

“I truly believe I will be wearing that gold jacket,” Carey said.

Carey’s message to the class was the importance of education and staying focused on his goals. He realized early on that the football part of the sport would be the easiest part of his journey. He began playing football as a little kid and scored six touchdowns in his first game and it was love at first sight. 

“When I was six years old my mom put me into Pop Warner football and I just fell in love with it,” Carey said. “It was probably the best thing that ever happened to me.”

He played other sports as a kid and was a three-sport athlete in high school, but football came the easiest for him.

Staying focused in school and away from the game was harder. He admits that school was “very difficult” at times  and he even missed a game when he was younger because of grades.

“I was crying,” Carey said. “I was so upset that I could not play.”

Carey said surrounding himself with close, loyal friends was the key to staying focused.

“When you get to high school keep them (your friends) in the right direction,” Carey said. “Keep your head in school and pick your friends right.”

Carey had a stellar high school career. He rushed for over 5,700 and played in three state championship games, taking home the title as a junior.

Despite opportunities to play elsewhere, the chance to play in front of his friends and family was too much to pass up and he stayed locally and played college football for the University of Arizona.

“I chose UofA because they had great academics, my family was close in case anything happened to me,” Carey said. “I knew I would get homesick, really.”

He got off to a rough start with his career, finding it hard to crack the line-up as a freshman. His sophomore year saw a coaching change and Carey was able to thrive in Rich Rodriguez’s offense. Carey rushed for just under 4,000 yards in his final two seasons at Arizona and bypassed his senior season to go pro.

“There are too many great memories,” Carey said. “You are playing in your friend and family. It was wonderful, I loved playing at Arizona.”

Had he returned for his senior season Carey would have been a favorite for the Heisman Trophy and had a realistic shot at finishing as a top-5 career rusher in D-I history. Although those individual accolades were appealing, he had loftier goals.

“The position I was in really, I wanted to support my family,” Carey said. “My mom was working hard because she was a single mom. I felt like I wanted to be the dad in the family and support for her. That kept me motivated.”

Carey spent a long time answering questions from the class. They had prepared for the visit by coming up a number of questions for Carey and there no lack of things to talk about. Carey had no issues giving honest answers. He admitted he believed he was worthy of being drafted in the first or second round and that he cried before playing in his first NFL game. He did not shy away from the fact that he grew up a huge Philadelphia Eagles fan, but if he ever left the Bears that he would want to play somewhere warm in the west, and did not shy away from a homecoming with the Cardinals.

He talked a lot about playing youth football for the Marana Broncos and how he adjusted to living in Chicago, especially with all the snow.