EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Former Minnesota Vikings receiver Cris Carter has always been outspoken and as he has fallen short of induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame the past few years, he’s shared his opinion on the process.
Few doubt Carter’s impact as one of the top wide receivers of his generation. He ranks fourth in NFL history with 1,101 catches and fourth with 130 receiving touchdowns. The debate, at least lately, is how the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, recognizes the receiver position. Jerry Rice, widely regarded as the best receiver in NFL History has been the only inductee at the position in the past three years.
The receiver position, with three qualified candidates in Carter, Tim Brown and Andre Reed, has been shut out the past two years since Rice was inducted. Carter says he feels good about his chances this year, his sixth time as a finalist, when the 2013 inductees are announced Saturday. But Carter just hopes the stalemate at receiver is broken this year.
“If I have one wish this year in talking to people in the Hall of Fame, talking about people that are voting; I told them it doesn’t have to be me, but they should vote in a wide receiver this year,” Carter said Thursday on the Mike and Mike radio show. “Break up the logjam, call it what you want to, but the numbers don’t lie.”
Carter and others have lamented the lack of receivers in the Hall of Fame. Carter, Brown and Reed are together as part of the group of 15 finalists for the fourth year in a row. Reed, the former Buffalo Bills standout, is a seven-time finalist. Brown, the dynamic Raiders receiver and returner, is a four-time finalist.
“I feel good about it,” Carter said of his chances. “It’s been a good week. I think there’s a lot of momentum out there as far as the wide receivers, what are they going to do? Myself, Tim Brown, Andre Reed, all guys that people have said eventually will get into the Hall of Fame.”
But the process won’t get any easier for the three receivers this year. The other finalists include offensive lineman Larry Allen, running back Jerome Bettis, owner Ed. DeBartolo Jr., linebacker Kevin Greene, linebacker Charles Haley, owner Art Modell, offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, coach and executive Bill Parcells, defensive tackle Warren Sapp, guard Will Shields, defensive end Michael Strahan and defensive back Aeneas Williams. Defensive tackle Curley Culp and linebacker Dave Robinson are the two senior committee nominees.
Allen, Ogden, Sapp and Strahan made the list of 15 modern-era finalists in their first year on the ballot. When the voters get back into a room Saturday to decide the 2013 inductees, they meet for hours and narrow the list to 10 through voting. From the list of 10, the voters then decide on a maximum of five names, not including the senior committee choices.
With a maximum of five, the difficulty of the decisions increases and some deserving players might be left out. For example, in 2010 when Rice, the all-time leading receiver and Emmitt Smith, the all-time leading rusher were on the ballot together and considered no-doubt selections, the remaining finalists were left to be considered for basically three positions.
“There is a process,” Carter said. “I respect the process, and since I’ve been a finalist the past five years, they have not selected one bad football player.”
But Carter also will state his candidacy for induction.
At the time of his retirement in 2002, he was second only to Rice in catches and receiving touchdowns and was third in receiving yards behind Rice and James Lofton. Carter, an eight-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, finished with 13,899 receiving yards, now ninth all-time in league history.
“You have to be able to keep track by some type of mechanism, and in sports it’s called the numbers,” Carter said. “I’m the only person alive eligible for the Hall of Fame with 130 touchdowns that’s not in the Hall. I’ve got more touchdowns than Walter Payton and Jim Brown. If scoring the football is important, let’s get it done.”