LATROBE, Pa. (AP) – Tyrone Carter pauses while pulling off his sweat-soaked jersey following a steamy afternoon practice and reflects where it went wrong for the big brother who steered the Pittsburgh Steelers’ safety through tough times.

“If you do the crime, you’ve got to turn the time,” Carter said.

But this much time? Four-and-a-half more years?

Tank Carter had 54 months added to what would have been a six-month sentence for driving with a revoked license in Broward County, Fla. The reason? He skipped out of going to jail in January to watch his brother play in three road playoff games and the Super Bowl.

The additional punishment could be viewed as overly harsh, yet Tyrone Carter knows why someone would risk such a severe penalty merely to watch a brother play in a few football games. Even if one game was the Super Bowl, where the two Carter brothers partied in Detroit with celebrities such as rapper Snoop Dogg.

“That’s that brotherly bond we have,” Tyrone Carter said.

“I’m there for him and he’s there for me.”

After all, Tank Carter is more than just a brother to Tyrone. He’s also his best friend and confidante.

The two were raised by their grandparents in a rough section of Pompano Beach, Fla., that was infested by crimes and drugs, in a tiny house populated at times by as many as 10 children. There was little money, and considerable temptation to go about all the wrong ways of acquiring it.

But even as Tank Carter was dropping out of high school and getting into trouble repeatedly – The Miami Herald reported he had five felonies and 11 misdemeanors on his record – he made certain his football-playing brother didn’t.

Tyrone Carter stayed in school and graduated from Ely High in Pompano Beach before becoming one of the top defensive backs to play at the University of Minnesota. His 528 tackles are the most in NCAA Division I-A history by a defensive back, and the 5-foot-8 Carter was chosen as the Jim Thorpe Award winner in 1999 as college football’s top defensive back.

Carter went on to play for the Minnesota Vikings after being a fourth-round draft pick, and, in 2003, for the Jets.

Tank Carter often was around. He helped his brother with personal appearances and other daily duties. It was only when Tank wasn’t around, when he went back home to Florida, that trouble seemed to occur.

Not that it affected his relationship with his brother.

“Here you’ve got a brother who has lived with you all these years, and been there with you, sweating and shedding tears with you, and helping me accomplishing all the things I’ve accomplished in my life,” Tyrone Carter said. “That’s your brother, that’s what he’s there for.”

The only problem is Tank can’t be there for Tyrone now. According to the Steelers’ safety, the two talk as much as they can, and Tyrone is moving on with his own life even as he worries about that of his brother.

“Oh, man, that’s behind me,” Tyrone Carter said of his brother’s situation. “Right now, he’s sitting there chilling and I’m trying to win a starting job and trying to put myself in a position to make this team. We both know what happened, and we put that behind us.”

Carter, cut by the Vikings in 2004 before hooking on with the Steelers, played well enough as a backup last season that he is getting a chance to replace former starter Chris Hope at free safety. Carter is currently practicing with the starters, even though the Steelers signed former Redskins starter Ryan Clark as a free agent and drafted former Syracuse star Anthony Smith in the third round in April.

But if he starts this season, his brother won’t be able to watch, except on TV.

Tank Carter would be leaving a North Broward jail about now, not looking at another 41/2 years there, if he reported to jail as required on Jan. 6. When he finally showed up on Feb. 13, a week after the Super Bowl, Broward Circuit Judge Stanton S. Kaplan added the extra time.

Kaplan had initially ordered Tank Carter to report to jail on Dec. 8, but gave him an extra month so he could spend the holidays with his three children. By not reporting in January, Tank Carter became eligible for more jail time because of two prior convictions for driving with a suspended or revoked license.

In what could become an extremely delayed penalty, he might miss out on additional Super Bowls should the Steelers reach them with Tyrone Carter on the roster.

“Hey, I can’t control that, the only thing I can control is being there for him,” Tyrone Carter said. “But, yeah, it’s crazy man, crazy.”

AP-ES-07-31-06 1805EDT

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.