Sunday, February 3, 2013

Cris Carter - Best Offensive Player Ever for Vikings?

It was a great day to be a Vikings fan yesterday as Adrian Peterson won the league MVP and Cris Carter was voted into the NFL Hall of Fame.  Both were richly deserved for these incredible players.

While I do not want to overlook AP's stunning season - coming back better than ever from what could have been a career ending injury to fall a couple yards short of the NFL single-season rushing record - I really want to focus on Carter.  His unjustified six-year wait to get to the HOF demands it.

Consider the following records:
  • All time NFL receptions - 4th overall
  • Receiving TDs - 4th overall
  • Total TDs - 8th overall
  • Career receiving yards - 9th overall
  • Most TDs of 7 yards or less (as well as most TDs for 6, 5, 4, 2, and 1 yard), thus proving his incredible value in the red zone.
And he did all of this with the following QB crew over a 12 year career:
  • Wade Wilson
  • Rich Gannon
  • Sean Salisberry
  • Jim McMahon
  • Warren Moon
  • Brad Johnson
  • Randall Cunningham
  • Daunte Culpepper
  • Spergon Wynn
Of these guys, only Moon, who played with the Vikings at the end of his storied career, was of HOF talent.  Hence, it was Carter, not the guy throwing the ball to him, that is responsible for those gaudy career numbers. 

So what does that make him?  For my money, he's the best offensive player the Vikings ever had.  I know great cases can be made for Tarkenton and Peterson, but Tarkington had a much better cast of characters around him (especially the defense), and Peterson is not finished and may very well be one of the best running backs to play the game.  But if there is one guy that I could go back and watch play in his prime, it would be CC.

There are two things I'll always remember about Carter.  The first is how unstoppable he was in the red zone.  He could either make an acrobatic catch on the fade, out-jump the defender in the back of the end zone, or burn the cornerback on an up-and-out after going in motion.  One never knew what he was going to do, only that he'll likely find a way to create separation and  make a spectacular catch.

The second thing that struck me was his humility.  I remember having dinner at a chain steak house that my Dad had recently brought public (Minnesota Steakhouse, later named Timber Lodge Steakhouse) in Eden Prairie and getting seated next to a table where Cris Carter was having dinner with his wife.  This was at the height of Cater's career, and yet here he sat in the middle of a "B" list restaurant, not tucked into some private corner, eating and acting like any other patron.  And while people clearly recognized him, nobody bothered him because he and his wife acted just like anyone else.  It ran counter to nearly every pro-athlete encounter I've had before or since.

I'll close with a video recap of some of his amazing career:

1 comment:

  1. the correct spelling.

    And, I would argue that Chuck Foreman is the Vikings best offensive player ever. Foreman was a player ahead of his time. The size of modern day running backs with all of the speed and moves, as well as the hands of a wide receiver. Being ahead of his time, when he was originally recruited to play college football out of Fredrick, MD by Miami (before it was The U), he was recruited as a defensive tackle. But, that defensive tackle was the fastest guy on the team, so he ended up playing first cornerback, then wide receiver, and then running back. He probably could have played in the NFL at any of those positions, and more.

    The significant fact is that when Tarkenton returned to the Vikings in 1972 we were a 7-7 team. But in 1973, Foreman's rookie year, we were in the Super Bowl, and followed that up in 1974 and 1976.

    In perhaps Foreman's best year, 1975, we had the very best Viking team ever talent wise and were screwed by the refs and Drew Pearson. In that year, Foreman led the NFL in receptions, and was 6 rushing yards short of a NFC triple crown (leading in rushing, receiving and scoring).

    In all of Foreman's dominant seasons, except for the unlucky 1975, the Vikings made it to the Super Bowl. 1973, 1974, and 1976 all Super Bowl seasons. Cris Carter never played on a Super Bowl team. And, while I think he is a great player in the end that is the critical difference.

    In 1977, Foreman had another 1,000 yard season. He started to be impacted by injuries, and was not the same back anymore (although modern technology probably would have extended his effectiveness for several more years).


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