Carlson, Cody “Commander Cody”

Card: Upper Deck 1992
Acquired: In Person 1993, Houston Oilers Training Camp
Pending: Failure 2010, C/o Home

Cody Carlson was one of the most prolific passers coming out of Baylor University in Waco, Texas during the mid 80s when the team was watchable during its heyday in the Southwestern Conference. Cody would own virtually all of the passing records of the Bears before leaving in 1987. He was selected out of the 3rd round of the 1987 draft to compete with incumbent starter Warren Moon. (Most people do not remember that Warren during his early tenure with the Oilers, had a contentious relationship with then head coach Jerry Glanville and that Moon’s touchdown to interception ratio was pretty atrocious.)  Initially as a competitor, Cody wanted to start, but as Moon became entrenched as the starter, Carlson turned his focus towards being prepared for when the Oilers needed him to step up.

It would be with the 1987 season that Warren would finally get his numbers under control, and Carlson would peg down the backup job behind Moon but would not play in a game that season. In 1988 Cody would get to start 5 games. He’d perform well, leading the team to a 3-2 record in relief for the injured Moon. His 3 wins would be critical in helping the team reach the playoffs that season. In 1989 Cody would play primarily mop up duty in 6 games attempting 31 passes.  In 1990 Carlson playing against Pittsburgh during the season finale calmly guided the team on 22/29 passing, 247 yards, and 3 touchdowns in the team’s 34-14 victory. The game would allow the team to make the playoffs again, and although the Oilers would get rocked the next week against the Bengals in the playoffs, Carlson would return as Warren Moon’s insurance policy in 1991.  In 1992 Carlson would play in 11 games in relief of Warren, throwing for career highs in yards (1710) and touchdowns (9), including a Thanksgiving game against the Detroit Lions where he threw for 338 yards and a touchdown.  Once again due to the combined quarterbacking of Moon and Carlson- the Oilers would make the playoffs.  In the offseason, the team failed to trade Cody to Detroit for Andre Ware, so Bud instead re-upped Carlson’s contract. In 1993, Cody got his chance to start while Moon was struggling, but after an impressive start against New England, Cody was injured, -and Moon played lights out the rest of the season. Owner Bud Adams threw the gauntlet however- stating the team would be broken up after the season, (despite the team winning its second division title and making the playoffs for the last 5 seasons) and he did just that by trading Warren Moon to Minnesota after Houston lost another heart breaker in the playoffs.

Cody became the starter in 1994, but he’d separated his shoulder in the first game. He would not return till game 4. He’d beat the Bengals, but against the Steelers the next week be injured again blowing out his knee. Carlson’s injury it turned out was a career ender. As frustration mounted in Houston, and Moon continued to succeed (now in Minnesota) Carlson unfairly became the target of criticism, because minus the disastrous 1994 season- Carlson had a sparkling 10-4 record as a starter.  After the team bounced to a 1-9 record, head coach Jack Pardee resigned, and interim head coach Jeff Fisher decided he was going in a new direction at quarterback and with the offense- thus signaling the end to the Commander’s career by 1995 when the team told him that he couldn’t play anymore because of his knee.

Among the stranger things, Joseph R. Gannascoli (who played the gay mobster in “The Sopranos”) claims that Cody Carlson is who brought Gannascoli to acting, as he was a heavy gambler and lost a $60k bet on the Oilers/ Steelers game that Carlson started back in 1990. The loss forced Gannascoli to sell his restaurant and move to Los Angeles to pursue acting.  Since football Cody has written a book or two and resides in Austin, Texas. I wrote him last year and sent him a few cards and gave him a recommendation on a great Mexican restaurant in town, but he has not responded to my request. I was pretty disappointed and kept delaying this post hoping that I’d get a reply- since I am a huge Oilers fan.

G/Gs   45/19      Att   659      Comp  370     Yds  4469      Pct   56.1
Td  21    Int   28      Rat  70.0