Cris Carter ponders Hall of Fame possibility

Former Vikings receiver Cris Carter is among 15 modern-era finalists for the Hall of Fame. He talked about the possibility a couple of weeks ago when visiting the Vikings and has an interesting opinion on who is getting credit for today's passing game.

Cris Carter is one of 15 modern-era finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he has no idea whether he will actually gain that honor when the voters convene this Saturday.

Last year was Carter's first year of eligibility. He was a finalist then as well, but he was ultimately denied the honor and pointed out two weeks ago when visiting Minnesota that his statistics haven't gotten any better in the last seven years.

"I don't really talk about it. I didn't have a good last year. I haven't had a good year the last seven years," he said. "My stats aren't going to get no better. It is what is. You're on the ballot. A finalist again."

Carter spent the bulk of his 16-year career with the Vikings (1990-2001) after the Philadelphia Eagles cut him following three years there and then-coach Buddy Ryan's infamous quote that all Carter did was catch touchdowns.

In fact, Carter's first reception was a 22-yard touchdown, and he didn't stop catching them until his career ended in 2002 with the Miami Dolphins – he finished with 130 touchdown catches. In all, he played 16 seasons and 234 games, making it out on the field for every game in 13 seasons.

His statistics are impressive. In 2000, he became only the second player in NFL history to catch 1,000 career passes and had 1,000-yard seasons eight straight years. He had 42 100-yard games and ranked second all-time for career receptions (1,101) and receiving touchdowns (130) when he retired.

Those are Hall of Fame-worthy numbers for sure, but this year's class of finalists may be even better than last year, when former Vikings guard Randall McDaniel was voted in. Among the first-year finalists are wide receiver Jerry Rice and running back Emmitt Smith.

Even Carter admits that Rice is the best receiver of all time, and it might be difficult for the 44 Hall of Fame voters to select two wide receivers in the same year. Carter has an opinion on that as well.

"They have a system, and every system is going to have pros and cons. … The issue now in the 44 voters is the modern passing game. Where do we put that?" Carter questioned. "Right now, the only guys that get credit for the passing game are the quarterbacks. There ain't no one else getting credit. We throw the ball more the last 20 years, but the only one getting credit – because we've had only one receiver go the last 20 years – is Steve Largent in 1982. The last wide receiver to go in on the first ballot – '82."

Rice could very well become the first receiver since Largent to make it in his first year of eligibility.

Rice's accomplishment are many: 11 straight 1,000-yard seasons; recorded at least 10 touchdown in nine of 10 seasons; set the single-season record with 22 touchdown receptions; led the NFL in receiving yards six time, including an NFL-record 1,848 in 1995; holds the record for career receptions (1,549), receiving yards (22,895), most 1,000-yard seasons (14), total touchdowns (208) and combined net yards (23,546). He was All-Pro 11 consecutive season and a Pro Bowl pick 13 times, along with winning three Super Bowls.

Like Rice, Carter was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1990s and was the 1999 NFL Man of the Year. Carter was first- or second-team All-Pro in 1994, 1995 and 1999 and made the Pro Bowl eight times.

But, despite all of his accomplishments, he continued to wonder if the voting members of the Hall of Fame are more likely to give credit to the quarterbacks than the receivers.

"Everybody else is getting credit. They gave Steve Young credit, they gave Troy Aikman credit, they gave Warren Moon credit," Carter said. "They gave all those guys credit. Now eventually there's somebody catching those balls."

Ironically, there are no quarterbacks among the 15 modern-era finalists, so maybe Carter will be able to join Rice and make it two receivers getting credit in the same year.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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