The long-winding road that is Cris Carter's football career will finally come full-circle on Saturday when Carter's inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. It's fitting that the crowning moment of Carter's football career is happening in Ohio, because that's where it all began.
Carter blossomed into a football star at Middletown High School in southwestern Ohio before moving on to Ohio State. Carter's career was bumpy early though: he was forced to leave OSU after his junior year when it was discovered that he took money from an agent.
That incident led to Carter ending up in the NFL's supplemental draft, where he went in the fourth round to the Eagles. Philadelphia coach Buddy Ryan could only take so much of Carter's drug and alcohol abuse, so Ryan cut Carter after only three seasons. It was when Carter was cut that Ryan famously said, "All he does is catch touchdowns."
Carter was picked up on waivers by the Vikings and the rest is history. Although it almost wasn't history, Bill Parcells revealed on Friday that the Giants put in an unsuccessful waiver claim on Carter after he was released.
In 12 years with the Vikings Carter went over 1,000 receiver yards eight times and over 120 receptions twice. Wes Welker is the only other receiver in NFL history that's gone over 120 receptions twice in his career.
Carter went to eight Pro Bowls in his career and led the NFL in receiving touchdowns three times.
Despite a stellar career, Carter was always somewhat overshadowed by Jerry Rice.
Carter didn't finish his career with as many records or Super Bowl titles as Rice, but there are some that believe that's irrelevant and that as far as being a pure receiver goes, Carter is the best to ever play the game.
"If you put Cris Carter with Joe Montana for 15 years, what do you think he would have done?" William White said, via the Akron Beacon Journal. White spent 11-seasons in the NFL and played against both Carter and Rice. White also played against Carter in high school and with him at Ohio State.
While Rice had Montana and young, Carter went through a span in his career where he had five quarterbacks in five seasons: Warren Moon (1996), Brad Johnson (1997), Randall Cunningham (1998), Jeff George (1999) and Daunte Culpepper (2000). Carter also caught passes from Rich Gannon and Jim McMahon while he was with the Vikings.
"I would rather guard Jerry Rice than Cris Carter," White said.
Chris Spielman, who also played with Carter at Ohio State and against him several times during a 10-year NFL career, agrees with White.
"I would say he is the best wide receiver I ever played with or played against," Spielman said. "The guy I knew would never drop a ball. If I saw it going his direction when we were playing the Vikings, I said, ‘Hopefully we'll knock it down before it gets to him.'"
Even with the NFL in midst of a pass-happy era, Carter's numbers have mostly withstood the test of time. Carter finished his 16-year career with 1,101 receptions and 130 touchdown catches, numbers that both rank fourth in league history.
Carter's road to the Hall of Fame was a bumpy one, but it was successful. And now, on Saturday in Canton, Carter will reach the pinnacle of the football world in the state where it all started.
Follow John Breech on Google+