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Success as UNLV QB served as springboard for Glenn Carano

Glenn Carano lives in Reno, but he feels like he belongs to all of Nevada.

Carano, 59, played quarterback at UNLV and later served two terms on the Nevada Athletic Commission. He has a Super Bowl ring as a member of the Dallas Cowboys, and after retiring from football in 1985, he has overseen operations of the successful Silver Legacy Resort and Casino in downtown Reno.

On Friday at Orleans Arena, Carano will be recognized for his participation in athletics when he is inducted into the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame. He is being inducted alongside boxer Mike Tyson, NASCAR driver Kurt Busch, golf pro Joe Kelly and rodeo coach Ric Griffith.

“I never expected it,” Carano said. “When you look at the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame, you’re talking some of the best athletes in the world.”

Carano was a pretty fine athlete himself. He was recruited to play football at UNLV by Chris Ault, who would go back to Reno and make UNR a success. Ron Meyer was coach of the Rebels when Carano played, and he passed for 5,095 yards and 37 touchdowns over four seasons at UNLV. He was inducted into UNLV’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989.

The Cowboys drafted Carano in the second round in 1977 and he played seven seasons for coach Tom Landry, serving as a backup to Roger Staubach, then Danny White. During Carano’s stint with the Cowboys, the team appeared in five NFC title games and two Super Bowls, including a 27-10 win over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XII.

“We should have had more (Super Bowl) wins,” Carano said. “But I had the time of my life playing football and competing at a high level.”

While people of Carano’s generation probably best remember him from his days with the Cowboys, a lot of younger people probably know of him as Gina Carano’s father. The former mixed martial artist and current model and actress apparently has some of her dad’s athletic genes.

“As a father, I didn’t enjoy watching her fight,” he said. “But she’s a great athlete, a great competitor and a great spirit.”

Carano spent six years with the NAC, so he was familiar with MMA, which was just beginning to evolve. He was on the commission when Tyson was fined $3 million and had his license revoked after the infamous “Bite Fight” against Evander Holyfield in their 1997 rematch at the MGM Grand Garden. Tyson bit Holyfield’s ear twice and was disqualified.

A year later, Carano made the motion to approve Tyson’s reinstatement as a boxer.

“I got to see the management side of sport while I was on the commission,” Carano said. “It was a wonderful experience.

“The No. 1 thing I learned from the sports world is teamwork. There really is no ‘I’ in ‘team.’ You learn to work together, whether it’s getting to the Super Bowl or working on the athletic commission.”

Carano said he is proud of his Nevada roots, having witnessed the growth of Las Vegas and the state.

“It’s a great state led by great people,” said Carano, who graduated from Wooster High School. “I remember 335,000 people living in Las Vegas when I attended UNLV. Now there’s 2.5 million. Nevada has been home for our family for four generations, and it’s a great time for the state right now. So many exciting things are happening. Businesses are moving in. We may get major league sports in Las Vegas. I hope that happens.

“But I’ve been blessed to have had so many great mentors who prepared me for life and to be successful through hard work. I’m very excited about receiving this honor.”

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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