Cris Carter was an anomoly among NFL players. A reformed NFL bad boy who was ousted from Philadelphia for drug use and conduct unbecoming of the team, he became a minister and a leader among the NFL brethren.
Carter would annually speak to incoming NFL rookies about the temptations of fame and money and would hold training sessions with several NFL players in the offseason at his Florida workout compound.
However, as VU has been asking players and coaches about what went wrong in 2001, more and more blame is being left at Carter's door. After being the emotional glue that held the Vikings together during the hard times, it appears he became part of the problem, not the cure in 2001.
The growing rift between Carter and Randy Moss was more evident as time went on. As a mentor when Moss joined the league, Carter seemed to some in the Vikings locker room to be a little jealous of the attention Moss was receiving, and the proof came last summer. A day after Moss signed a $75 million contract extension, Carter told the media that he may not necessarily be retiring after the 2001 season. The result was that Moss got knocked off the front page of the sports section and Carter took it back -- and many in the organization believe it wasn't a coincidence.
Yet, the big turnaround in the Carter saga came in the second game of the 2001 season at Chicago. As FOX-TV cameras documented, Carter was yelling at Moss, Daunte Culpepper, assistant coaches and even head coach Dennis Green. It had long been known that Carter and Green had a close relationship and that Carter had been viewed by some players as a snitch for Green -- reporting the feeling of players when discussions took place out of earshot of Green.
But when Green saw that FOX had caught all of Carter's tirades on film and that was the emphasis of their game coverage, he did an uncharacteristic move -- he turned on C.C. Green went public with his criticism of Carter and C.C. had to swallow some pride to apologize to the fans for his boorish behavior.
That incident fractured the relationship between Carter and Green and players believe it was the breaking point with C.C. and the team. He became moody and sullen and seemed to play under his own agenda. In the end, he made public his feeling toward the fans and claimed he was going to keep playing.
By now, you know the result of that. With a contract with the Rams all but guaranteed, despite opposition from within the team that Carter could hurt team chemistry, he blew off a dinner with coaches and players Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk when he mistakenly thought the Cleveland Browns were going to offer him $4 million a year for two years. St. Louis coach Mike Martz said that was all he needed to see and said he wouldn't even speak to Carter about a deal. He went unsigned and retired this spring.
While many fans may think that losing Carter will be a detriment to the team, many players, including Moss, believe that clearing the decks of Carter and the shadow of anger he brought in the final years will be something that help the team come together. The Vikings will never replace his pure athletic ability, but, as we're finding out more as time goes on, there's more to making a team than just pure athleticism.
Did C.C. Play Himself Out of NFL?
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