Carano was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round of the 1977 NFL Draft. During his time with the team, he was a backup to Roger Staubach, then Danny White. He is remembered for replacing the injured White in a 1981 Thanksgiving game against the Chicago Bears and bringing the Cowboys back to win, 10-9. The next game would be the only start in his NFL career, in which he completed 7 of 18 passes for 51 yards, in a 37-17 win against the Baltimore Colts.
Carano served on the Nevada Athletic Commission, the Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority Marketing Committee, the Board of Directors for the Airport Authority of Washoe Country, and the Board of Directors for Boys & Girls Club of Truckee Meadows. He is married to Lamise Carano and has three daughters, Kasey, Gina and Christi. Gina, is a television personality, retired mixed martial arts fighter, actress and fitness model. His father, Donald L. "Don" Carano, was a hotelier in Nevada.