The Minnesota Vikings experienced a run of success in the late 1990s that was based heavily on the team's receiving corps. At various times, Jake Reed, Anthony Carter, Cris Carter and Randy Moss all roamed the sidelines for the Vikings, who sported one of the NFL's most feared offenses, even though the team lacked a top-notch quarterback for most of that time period.
While most fans would expect Moss to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame shortly after his retirement, those folks might want to temper their expectations. No doubt Moss has had a stellar career. He had some monstrous seasons with the Vikings and the New England Patriots. However, he also had some very forgettable stays in Oakland, Tennessee and now San Francisco.
Even with this inconsistency, many would think that Moss is eventually bound for Canton. However, it's not going to be as easy as that. Carter, who by any rational account, had a more consistent and arguably more prolific career than Moss isn't in the Hall despite the fact that he's been eligible for induction since 2008.
As Brad Oremland writes in his column on Sports Central: It is notoriously difficult for even exceptional wideouts to receive recognition from the voters...The strongest candidates, as I see them, are Tim Brown, Cris Carter, and Billy Howton, followed by Henry Ellard,Harold Jackson, Billy Wilson, and Jim Benton.
If players like Ellard, Jackson and Howton are to be considered, the fact that Carter isn't already enshrined is astounding. The former Vikings standout is fourth on the NFL's all-time receptions list with 1,101 catches. He's ninth all-time in yards with 13,899, and his 130 touchdown grabs place him fourth on the career list. With credentials like these, there's no excuse that Carter doesn't have a bust in Canton.
There are 21 modern-era wide receivers in the Hall of Fame. (The modern era is considered to be the time period starting in 1946.) Amongst the enshrined are Bob Hayes, John Stallworth, Fred Biletnikoff, James Lofton and Art Monk. None of them have as many catches as Carter. Monk is the closest, with 940.
The aforementioned immortals also fall short of Carter's touchdown production (Biletnikoff is the closest, with 76), and only Lofton produced more yardage than Carter, by 115 yards. If these men were considered the elite wide receivers of their eras, Carter should be enshrined as well.
For those who would cite intangibles, saying that Hayes changed the game with his speed, or that Stallworth was the ultimate winner, consider that Carter was instrumental in the development of Jake Reed, who had some of his best seasons for catches and yards alongside Carter. Carter also helped bring Randy Moss along, and Moss has never been as effective as he was in his first five years with the Vikings, save for one year in New England. Carter was a teacher and a mentor and made the players around him better.
Many who watched him play say that Carter had the best hands in NFL history. If the ball touched his fingers, he would find a way to catch it. His body control on the sideline and in the back of the end zone led to some of the most unbelievable catches in the history of the game. It was also thought that Carter, along with Jerry Rice, ran the most precise routes in the NFL during his tenure.
The case seems overwhelming. With all of the statistical and anecdotal evidence that supports his case, why isn't Cris Carter in the Hall of Fame?
The answer is simple. Carter, while a very smart player, was also very arrogant. He wouldn't hesitate to taunt an opponent, argue with a coach, confront a referee or berate a reporter. He always thought his way was the best way and seemed to feel that anyone who disagreed was an idiot, or worse. To put it simply, Cris Carter wasn't well-liked.
Correct me if I'm wrong, here, but isn't the Hall of Fame supposed to be a shrine to the greatest players in the history of the game? I don't remember any criteria being mentioned that said a guy had to be popular as well.
Cris Carter belongs in the NFL Hall of Fame. His omission calls into question the legitimacy of the entire voting process. HOF voters need to put their prejudices aside and do the right thing. Vote Carter in.