Cris Carter: ‘You’re going nowhere in the NFL if you don’t have a Russell Wilson – you need leaders’

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In his reaction to Michael Bennett's words about how NFL teams 'don't want a bunch of Russell Wilsons,' Cris Carter reveals to coach Steve Spagnuolo, Nick Wright and Jenna Wolfe why NFL locker rooms require a blend of both gritty toughness and intelligence in order to be successful, noting that the Seattle Seahawks undersized quarterback possesses both in addition to intangible leadership skills that are crucial to the overall vitality of a locker room.

- One of the things I used to tell other guys-- because they used to asked me all the time, Chris, what makes you different? And I said, man, I'm willing to get knocked out. I'm willing to get hurt to be able to live out my dream. And I ask guys when I play against them, are you willing to suffer that today? And that, to me, set me apart.

And I wanted a bunch of guys who had that type of interest in football. Now, I learned through the late Denny Green, through his mentor, Bill Walsh-- the late Bill Walsh-- in his book. He said, on a 53-man roster, you can have five bad guys. That's what he said.

You can have guys that talk trash. You can have guys that you're gonna have discipline problems with. But five is the number. Because in a locker room, you have cliques. Typically, the cliques are 5 to 10.

The reason why coach said he'll take five of them, because that means the clique will be able to handle. You'll have nine guys surrounding that one guy. You'll see the offensive linemen. There might be a couple of defensive linemen in that group. You'll see the DBs, potentially, and the wide receivers.

You'll see the quarterbacks. You're always gonna have a group around them. So you have cliques inside the locker room. I prescribe to that theory. You need five guys-- I mean, they might be a little bit touch-- because all of us-- I played 16 years in the NFL, came in, in 1987, got knocked out in 2002.

All of us that play this game, you got to be a little touched. You got to be a little moved in your-- There's something different about you.

But I stick to the toughness part because in the National Football League, I'm gonna tell you who we got-- we do have some thugs. But we got every country guy that was growing up on a farm and is tough, he playing in the NFL. We got every city kid that was tough at the park on his block-- he's playing in the NFL. Every little country little boy who grew up in Ohio, in the Midwest, Pennsylvania--

Where's Mark Schlereth from? Alaska.

- Alaska.

- We can throw Alaska in there.

- So if you're tough--

- We can throw Alaska in.

- --they will find you. And I believe that that-- tough and, then, smart. Those are the two ingredients that you need to be a successful football player in the NFL.

- If you're gonna build a team, you want to build it on smart and tough. And I-- what I hear you saying, Chris, is you're gonna respect a fellow teammate that plays the game as tough as you play it.

- Yes. And once teammates recognize that in the guys that they're playing with, that's when you get this.

- And I don't have all my stuff all wrapped tight, coach. I'm willing to accept another guy with his blemishes, with his personality flaws. Yes, because I'm no finished product. And I'm tough to work with myself.

- Before I get into this--

- This is, literally, the first I'm hearing of this.

- Before I get into this, you guys, off the air before when we were talking about the segment coming up. You guys, both, keyed on the word smart. Now, Michael Bennett doesn't say the word smart there. But you guys both-- amongst each other, coach and player-- talked about how important the intelligence factor is-- football intelligence. And how that's something that gets forgotten.

We call guys tough or guys soft. The importance to have smart football players on your team. And those guys can be tough or they can be praying-- I'm not saying tough guys don't pray or the other way around. But they can be what Michael Bennett described as Russell Wilson-- or as Michael Bennett described himself-- the intelligence is the common denominator between Michael Bennett and Russell Wilson, right? Like, that's what you guys were discussing off the air.

- You're going nowhere in the NFL if you don't have a Russell Wilson, OK?

- You're absolutely right about that.

- What do you mean?

- If you don't have someone who is a leader-- I don't care if he touch the ball every time, if your middle linebacker is not Russell Wilson, or have the characteristic of Russell Wilson, you can't win in this league. You need leaders. Now, leaders lead in a different way.

- Absolutely.

- Russell is leading within his character. Tom Brady is leading within his character. They do it two separate ways. But you need guys like that.