They haven't seen each other since the New Jersey Generals lost to the Baltimore Stars in the opening round of the USFL playoffs, but running backs Herschel Walker and Maurice Carthon keep in touch. Usually, they talk about the New York Giants.
"He wants to know about the difference in the leagues," said Carthon, who made quite a reputation for himself blocking for Walker during three seasons with the Generals. "He wants to know how I'm feeling."
Carthon, whose General teammates were aware of his impending leap to the NFL throughout the USFL season, officially became a Giant in early July, after going through New Jersey's training camp and playing in 19 straight games that included that playoff loss to the Stars on July 1.
"Heck, as I told Herschel, the only difference I see is that maybe they're a little stronger and quicker overall in this league," said Carthon. "I do miss running in the same backfield with Herschel, but the guys I'm playing with sure do things well."
Carthon weighs slightly less than the 225 pounds he carried on his 6-1 frame with the Generals, and his face appears a little drawn. Other than an ankle sprain he suffered two weeks ago, he says he has held up quite well considering the pounding he endured throughout the USFL season.
"I'm feeling pretty good," he said. "No, I haven't lost any weight. I lost some water, but that comes right back. And I'm not tired."
Carthon has been a pleasant surprise for Giants' Coach Bill Parcells, who often watched him play for the Generals but was reluctant then to comment on his play. "He's a strong blocker and a good runner," Parcells said of Carthon, who scored a touchdown in each of the Giants' past two exhibition wins.
More than one Giant believes Carthon will be pushing Rob Carpenter for the fullback position and probably become a starter early in the season. Carthon, who gained 17 yards on three carries Saturday night against the New York Jets, said he is not satisfied with what he has accomplished thus far in the NFL.
"I'm excited about being here and in the NFL," he said. "I wanted to prove I can play in this league, but I don't think I've proved that much at all yet. I haven't played as much as I'd like to, and I haven't carried the ball as much as I'd like to."
Carthon, who led Arkansas State in rushing with 682 yards his senior season, had his best season for the Generals in 1984 when he carried the ball 338 times for 1,042 yards and 11 touchdowns. His former coach, Walt Michaels, has compared him to ex-Jet Matt Snell and said he couldn't miss in the NFL.