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Carter, Cris

Cris Carter


American football player

When wide receiver Cris Carter, who played most of his career with the Minnesota Vikings, retired after 15 years of playing football, he ranked second all-time in the NFL with 1,096 receptions, 129 of them for touchdowns. Carter, who is an eight-time Pro Bowl athlete, came out of retirement in October of 2002 to join the Miami Dolphins.

Overcame Addiction and Excelled

Carter played his first football game when he was eight years old, in a peewee league in Middletown, Ohio. When his teammates made a feeble attempt at tackling a large opponent, Carter became furious and said he would beat up anyone on his team who didn't play as hard as he did. His older brother, Butch, had to drag him off the field, telling him that this was not how team sports should be played. However, as Jeffri Chadiha noted in Sports Illustrated, Carter "was born with talent and a mean streak." Later in life, Carter would tame the mean streak, while retaining the talent.

Carter played for Ohio State University and began his professional career when he was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1987. His first reception as a pro player was a 22-yard touchdown catch. At the time, however, he was battling addictions to alcohol and cocaine. Carter flunked three drug tests while with the Eagles, who waived him in 1990. He overcame the addictions, turned his life around, and spent the next 12 years playing for the Minnesota Vikings.

Carter, who until then had held a fairly lax notion of training in the off-seasonplaying pickup basketball and occasional runningstarted as a backup but was in

for a big change with the Vikings. Roger Craig, an allpro running back from the San Francisco 49ers, joined the team, and when Carter asked him how he had become such a good player, Craig told him it was because he took his off-season training seriously. Carter took the hint, and began spending the entire day training. He has continued this regimen throughout his career. "Work is all I know," he told Chadiha. "There are no tricks. Right now I don't even think about football. I just push my body to the limit. When football season comes around, then I put it all together."

The training paid off. While playing with the Vikings, Carter went to the Pro Bowl eight consecutive times from 1993 to 2000. He was known for his avoidance of major injury, playing a full 16 games for 13 seasons. Carter had back-to-back 122-catch seasons in 1994 and 1995 and caught over 90 passes three other times.

In 1996, Carter became an ordained minister; since then, he has frequently testified about his past troubles with addiction and the role of spirituality in helping him overcome them. Carter told Chadiha, "I tell people that when they see alcoholics or drug addicts on the streets, they should think about me. NFL Man of the Year, family man, a man who loves God. Yes, those things are all part of the picture, but so are the other things. They're all part of how I got to where I am now."

In 1998, Carter was devastated when his best chance to play in the Super Bowl slipped away. The Vikings, who had had a stellar season, were beaten by the Atlanta Falcons in overtime in the NFC Championship game. In the locker room after the game, Carter wept, and was unconsoled by teammates who insisted the team would be back and would someday have another chance. But the team made changes in personnel during the off-season, and Carter believed he would not have another chance to win the Super Bowl with the Vikings.

In 1999, Carter was awarded the NFL's Man of the Year Award. In that year, he also became the second player in NFL history to catch 1,000 passes in a career. Only the great Jerry Rice caught more passes in his career than Carter.

Talent and Hard Work

Carter has a rigorous workout schedule that includes football drills, speed and strength training, and yoga. He is part-owner of FAST, a speed-agility, and strength fitness center, and works out there. He couples this discipline with natural talent: he has long hands, wears size XX gloves, and is known for his dexterity as a player. In an informal survey in the Sporting News, Carter was voted the player with the best hands in the NFL. Carter is able to catch a ball with his fingertips, with one hand while diving to the ground, and, according to Dennis Dillon in the Sporting News, "there is his trademark sideline catch, where he stretches like a human rubber band horizontally, his entire body out of bounds except for his tiptoeing feet, and gathers the ball seemingly with his fingernails."

Carter has always practiced difficult catches, trying new and ever more difficult ways to snag a ball. Ohio State University athletics communications director Steve Snapp told Dillon that Carter was the only player he ever knew whose catches during practice would elicit applause from his teammates. In warmups, Carter will run 50 yards down the field and try to catch a pass behind his back; if he succeeds, which he does 50 percent of the time, he believes he will have a good playing day.


1965 Born in Troy, Ohio
1987 Drafted by Philadelphia Eagles
1990 Waived by Eagles because of addiction problems
1990-2001 Plays with Minnesota Vikings
1996 Ordained as a minister
1998 Vikings lose the NFC championship and their chance to play in the Super Bowl
1999 NFL Man of the Year; second player ever to catch 1,000 passes
2002 Announces retirement from play
2002 Comes out of retirement to play with Miami Dolphins

To Carter, catching is not just physical, but mental. He told Dillon that a catch is "seeing the point of the ball coming at you (spinning) like a cross, and it's almost in slow motion. And my head is staying on the ball the whole time. That's the perfect catch." Carter visualizes catches, imagining himself running and catching the ball from many different positions and angles.

In addition to his skill in catching, Carter is also known for evading defenders, knocking a defender's hands off him at the line of scrimmage, or grabbing a defender's jersey and pushing him away. According to Dillon, he is so good at these moves that "it's hard to tell he's doing anything illegal." Cardinals cornerback Aeneas Williams told Dillon, "He does it in such a way that it's part of his release patternall one motion."

Retires But Returns to Play

In spring of 2002, unable to find a contract to play with a team that suited him, Carter announced his retirement after 15 seasons with the NFL. Sad to leave the Vikings, he told Bob Sansevere of the Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, "I never thought I'd come to this cold place [Minnesota] and feel sad I'm leaving."

Carter accepted an offer to work as an analyst on the HBO program "Inside the NFL." According to Alex Marvez of the Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, Carter told reporters at an HBO media conference, "[My playing career] has been a tremendous ride, and that ride has come to an end. I wanted to play football, but I had to be in the right situation."

In October of 2002, Carter found the right situation. He came out of retirement to join the Miami Dolphins, whose performance had suffered after a series of wide receivers were injured; the team hoped he would improve their performance. Although he was hesitant to return to play, his friend and former Dolphins quarter-back Dan Marino helped convince him to sign a one-year contract. Marino worked with Carter on "Inside the NFL." In an article on, Carter said that Marino told him, "You just have to do it. You can still play." Carter admitted that he missed playing, and noted that HBO would still pay him even if he did sign with Miami.

Carter joined the team on October 21, and was paired with team members in practice so that he could learn the team's offense. Although some of his new teammates were initially upset because Carter was signed as a starter, not a backup, he got along well with them. In the Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, player James McKnight Alex Marvez, "The camaraderie in this locker room is the best I've ever been around." Carter, who appreciated the help and advice that was given to him by veteran players when he began his career, was happy to tutor young players. "I just think you should help people out no matter what profession you are in," he explained to Marvez. "To me, it's a crime for athletes or anyone else that has a talent or a skill when they don't try to share some of that with other people."

Career Statistics

Receiving Rushing Fumbles
MIA: Miami Dolphins; MIN: Minnesota Vikings; PHI: Philadelphia Eagles.
1987 PHI 5 84 16.8 2 0 0 0.0 0 00
1988 PHI 39 761 19.5 6 1 1 1.0 0 00
1989 PHI 45 605 13.4 11 2 16 8.0 0 1 0
1990 MIN 27 413 15.3 3 2 6 3.0 0 00
1991 MIN 72 962 13.4 5 0 0 0.0 0 00
1992 MIN 53 681 12.8 6 5 15 3.0 0 0 0
1993 MIN 86 1071 12.5 9 0 0 0.0 0 00
1994 MIN 22 1256 10.3 7 0 0 0.0 0 41
1995 MIN 122 1371 11.2 17 1 0 0.0 0 0 0
1996 MIN 96 1163 12.1 10 0 0 0.0 0 1 1
1997 MIN 89 1069 12.0 13 0 0 0.0 0 3 1
1998 MIN 78 1011 13.0 12 1 -1 -1.0 0 0 0
1999 MIN 90 1241 13.8 13 0 0 0.0 0 0 0
2000 MIN 96 1274 13.3 9 0 0 0.0 0 31
2001 MIN 68 811 11.9 6 1 4 4.0 0 11
2002 MIA 8 66 8.3 1 0 0 0.0 0 11
TOTAL 1101 13889 12.6 130 13 41 3.2 0 17 6

Awards and Accomplishments

1993-2000 Pro Bowl
1999 Wins NFL Man of the Year Award

Player Bernardo Harris of the Baltimore Ravens told Mike Berardino in the Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, "Cris is coming in, and a lot of pressure is put on him because he's the veteran guy, he's the name guy. The expectations are going to be so high. If he doesn't do anything, it's a letdown. If he does anything, it's expected." And he added, "He came out of retirement to save the team."

Unfortunately, Carter's return was short-lived. On November 9, 2002, Carter was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with a kidney abnormality and was out of play for the rest of the season. His future in football was in doubt at the end of the 2002 season.

Carter told Sansevere that given the successes of his career, he expected to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame someday. "I look forward to that day," he said. "It's going to happen. Whenever it happens, I'll be overwhelmed with emotions."

Where Is He Now?

In addition to his football career, Carter still provides game analysis for HBO's "Inside the NFL." He is also active in various charitable causes. Carter is the founder of the Carter-White Charitable Foundation to benefit underprivileged children, as well as the Viking Super Challenge, which challenges students to stay off drugs and remain in school. He also founded the Cris Carter Academic Honor Roll program, which rewards high school athletes who excel both in the classroom and on the playing field. Carter is a member of the board of directors of Builders of Dreams for Youth and the Starlight Foundation. He is married, has two children, Duron and Monterae, and lives with his family in Boca Raton, Florida.


Address: Cris Carter's Fast Program, 499 E. Spanish River Road, Boca Raton, FL. Phone: 1-866-552-5215. Email: Online:



Berardino, Mike. "All the Talk Only Motivates Cris Carter While He Regains His Health." Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, November 17, 2002, K0326.

Chadiha, Jeffri. "Time Trial." Sports Illustrated, July 3, 2000, 60.

Cole, Jason. "Cris Carter Out with Kidney Illness." Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, November 9, 2002, K4011.

Dillon, Dennis. "Show of Hands." Sporting News, October 30, 2000, 10.

Marvez, Alex. "Cris Carter Chooses Cash Over Game." I. Knight May 25, 2002, K4478.

Marvez, Alex. "Newest Dolphin Cris Carter Has Plenty to Teachand Learn." Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, October 27, 2002, K4005.

"NFL Football: Cris Carter Leaves Hospital." Sports Network, November 16, 2002, 100831S6220.

Sansevere, Bob. "It Appears to Be Time for Cris Carter to Move On." Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, December 23, 2001, K1851.


"Cris Carter," (January 2, 2003)

"Inside the NFL: Hosts: Cris Carter," (January 3, 2003).

"WR Cris Carter Signs With Dolphins." (January 3, 2003).

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Carter, Cris 1965–

Cris Carter 1965

Professional football player

Carter Controversy

A Rough Start

A Key Player


Cris Carter, one of the most prolific and highly-paid wide receivers in the National Football League (NFL), did not look like he would rise to his potential in the early rocky years of his career. However, this star athlete moved beyond scandal and setbacks to break several records and lead his Minnesota Viking team to victory. Not only is he a star on the field, but he is also widely recognized for his community service and charitable work off the field, setting an example for other athletes to follow.

Cris Carter was born in Middletown, Ohio, in 1965. He and his older brother Butch excelled at both basketball and football as kids. Butch would grow up to play seven years in the National Basketball Association, but Cris chose football as his sport. At Middletown High School he caught 80 passes for over 2000 yards. He was named to the 1993 Parade All-American Team and was heavily recruited by several major college football programs. Carter decided to go to Ohio State University (OSU) where he continued to excel at football. By the end of his junior year he had been chosen to the All Big Ten Team twice, and was the Buckeyes all-time leader in receptions (168) and touchdown catches (27). In his junior year he set OSU single-season marks for touchdown receptions (11) and receiving yards (1,127). His Big Ten-leading 68 catches earned him first team All-American honors with one year of college left. But he would never see that last year at OSU.

Carter Controversy

On April 23, 1987 the school announced that Carter was suspended for rules violations. Soon it became clear that Carter had done more than the typical youthful indiscretion common among college students. On July 16, OSU declared Carter ineligible for his senior season of college football because he accepted money and signed a contract with sports agents Lloyd Bloom and Norby Walters. The NFL then announced that it would hold a supplemental draft that summer to select players who had been caught up in the widespread sports agent scandala move that infuriated college football officials. When Carter and others tried to regain their college eligibility, the NFL decided to wait to hold its supplemental draft, but the NCAA upheld its ban against the players who had signed with agents. Carter lost his senior season of college football, but soon had

At a Glance

Born Cris Carter in Middletown, Ohio, November 25, 1965; married Meiante Carter; children: Duron Christopher and Monteray, Education: Attended Ohio State University.

Career; Drafted in the 1987 supplemental draft by the Philadelphia Eagles; was released by the team before the 1990 season and claimed off waivers by the Minnesota Vikings; signed with the Vikings through the 2,001 season.

Awards: Six-time Pro Bowl selection; two-time recipient of the NFL Extra Effort Award; recipient of Athletes in Actions Bart Starr Award, 1995; Midwest Sports Channel Citizen Athlete Award, 1995.

Addresses: Vikings Office 9520 Viking Drive, Eden Prairie, MN 55344.

more to worry about than the loss of his eligibility. A federal grand jury investigating the payments to college athletes by sports agents named Carter in the probes criminal charges. The federal racketeering investigation also named agents Lloyd Bloom, Norby Walters, and David Luedbeke for making improper payments and threats of violence while Carter was indicted on charges of mail fraud and obstruction of justice. In the end, Carter pleaded guilty to defrauding the school and concealing the money given to him by agents. He was sentenced to pay a $15,000 fine and perform 600 hours of community service. By the time he was sentenced, Carter was chosen in the fourth round of the 1987 supplemental draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.

A Rough Start

Carter spent three mediocre seasons in Philadelphia. Though he showed glimpses of brillianceaveraging 19.5 yards a catch in 1988 and leading the Eagles with 11 touchdown receptions in 1989he was looked on by some as a bust. Then Coach Buddy Ryan, irritated by Carters lack of work ethic, released the seemingly ill-fated wide receiver before the 1990 season. The Minnesota Vikings claimed Carter off waivers on September 4, 1990, and his career took off from there. The player some accused of being a cancer early in his career would go on to become one of the most respected, accomplished, and highest-paid players in the league.

In his second season with the Vikings, Carter led the team in receptions (72) and receiving yards (962) and tied for first on the team with five touchdown receptions. Carter put in another solid season in 1992 and in 1993 he was named to the Pro Bowl. Now living up to his potential as a football player, Carter evolved off the field as well. By the end of the 1993 season, Carter and his wife Melanie had two children, Duron and Monteray. The one-time outlaw of the college football world also became recognized for his good deeds. In September of 1994 Carter received the NFL Extra Effort Award for outstanding community service activities. In 1995 he was given the Athletes in Actions Bart Starr Award for outstanding leadership and character on and off the field. He also received the Midwest Sports Channel Citizen Athlete Award. By the 1996 off-season, Carter had become an ordained minister.

Carters off-field transformation was exceeded only by his accomplishments on the field. In 1994 he made 122 receptions, then the league record. He was selected to the Pro Bowl again, this time as a starter. In 1995 he caught 122 passes again, giving him the most catches ever over a two-year period. Carter scored 17 touchdowns racking up 1,371 yards and was again named to the Pro Bowl. The following season Carter led the Vikings in catches (96) for the sixth straight season and went to the Pro Bowl for the fourth straight time. The 1997 season followed Carters pattern of excellence. He was named to his fifth straight Pro Bowl after leading the league in touchdown catches (13) and finishing fourth in the league in receptions (89) while racking up 1,069 yards receiving.

A Key Player

After the 1997 season the team went through some big changes, and Carter was a central figure in all of them. The Vikings signed Carter to a four-year contract extension worth $23.5 million, making him the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL. At the time of the signing Minnesota Vikings Vice President Jeff Diamond said, Were really pleased to get Cris signed for several more years so he can finish his career as a Viking. His tremendous ability as a player combined with his great leadership and strong presence in the community makes him so important to the future of the Vikings. Another big element for the Vikings was head coach Dennis Greens decision to remain with Minnesota. After numerous disputes with Vikings management Green was pondering leaving the team, but Carter told Curt Sylvester of the Detroit Free Press that he counseled Green to stay in Minnesota: I know hes a fighter, and I wanted him to continue to fight. Regardless of who else they would have brought in to coach the team, I dont believe someone else should benefit from his hard work. And the situation worked out well.

Green consulted Carter again when it came to drafting the brilliant but troubled wide receiver Randy Moss. After 19 teams passed on Moss, the Vikings selected him in the first round. Carter quickly called his new team member and the two became workout partners. Moss told Sports Illustrateds Jack McCallum about his mentor: He plays the biggest role of anyone. Cris is the main guy. The two were even featured in television commercials for ESPNs new magazine. Though Moss grabbed most of the headlines and won the Rookie of the Year award in Minnesotas record-breaking offense in 1998, Carter quietly led the team in receptions and made his sixth straight trip to the Pro Bowl. After the 1998 season he was ranked first in receptions (745), receiving yards (8,997), and touchdown receptions (82) in Vikings team history. He became the sixth player in NFL history to make 800 career receptions and after the 1998 season stood fourth on the all-time career reception list with 834. In addition to winning the NFL Extra Effort Award again during the 1998 season, he and the Kansas City Chiefs William White founded the Carter-White Charitable Foundation. The non-profit organization helps underprivileged children in a variety of areas from football camps to preparing for college entrance exams. Echoing the Vikings young star receiver Randy Moss, clearly Cris Carter is the main guy to many people both on and off the field.



The Atlanta Constitution, April 25, 1989.

The Atlanta Journal and Atlanta Constitution, September 17, 1988.

Detroit Free Press, January 16, 1999.

Sports Illustrated, January 18, 1999.


Additional statistics and press releases were found at

Michael J. Watkins

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