Or, alternative title, "Gonzo's Fourth-Annual 'Why In The Hell Isn't Cris Carter In The Hall Of Fame Yet' Post."
I went into today with optimism as a fan of the Minnesota Vikings. Why? Because today was Hall of Fame selection day, and the Minnesota Vikings had two very worthy candidates that were up for enshrinement in Canton. Defensive end Chris Doleman was considered to be a bit of a long shot, to be sure, but he had still made the cut down to the final 15 players that were eligible.
The main reason for my optimism, however, was because I thought that today was the day that legendary wide receiver Cris Carter would finally get the call to football immortality. Carter, who still ranks third in NFL history in receptions with 1,101, fourth in receiving touchdowns with 130, and eighth in receiving yards with 13,899 despite not having played an NFL game since 2002, would surely get in this year, wouldn't he? I mean, there was nobody blocking him this year. . .in his first year of eligibility, he got passed over in favor of Art Monk, and last year was Jerry Rice's year, and no other wide receiver was going to share the stage with him. But this year, this would finally be the year that Carter would break through and get the recognition that he deserved in his first year of eligibility.
Yeah. . .not so much, no.
The Hall of Fame selection process had narrowed their list of modern-era players down to 15 going into today's proceedings. From there, today's voting was set to progress in stages. The first stage was to narrow their list from 15 down to 10. Following that, the list would get sliced from 10 to 5. Finally, there would be an "up or down" vote on the remaining five candidates, although with a class as strong as this year's, there would be little doubt that all five of the final individuals selected would get in.
As I watched the NFL Network stream of the selection show, I saw a man. . .whose name escapes me at the moment, stride to the podium and say, "The list of the final ten candidates for enshrinement is as follows. . ."
So, I start paying a bit more attention. . .
"Dermontti Dawson. . ."
Okay, nothing wrong with that.
"Richard Dent. . ."
Well, Carter and Doleman still have a chance.
"Marshall Faulk. . ."
Wait, hold on here just a second. . .they're not. . .
"Cortez Kennedy. . ."
DAMN IT, THEY'RE DOING IT IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER AND CRIS CARTER GOT SCREWED AGAIN!
Once again, as they do every year, words absolutely fail me when it comes to attempting to put into perspective what a joke it is that one of the five greatest pass catchers in the history of the game can't somehow find his way to enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
When the NFL Network a few years ago did one of their "Top Ten" specials on who had the greatest hands in NFL history, do you know whose name was at the top of the list? It wasn't Jerry Rice. . .it wasn't Randy Moss. . .it wasn't Marvin Harrison or Art Monk or Michael Irvin. No, the name at the top of the list was Cris freaking Carter. Do you know why? Because the man had the best set of hands this league has ever seen. That's why there are only two players in the history of the NFL that have more catches, and only three that have hauled in more touchdowns.
And it's not as though Carter was playing with all-time elite quarterbacks, like Rice and Harrison and Irvin did. You want a list of the guys that played quarterback for the Vikings when Carter was racking up thousand-yard season after thousand-yard season in Minnesota? Well, here it is. . .these are the Vikings' leading passers in each year that Cris Carter played for the Minnesota Vikings.
1990 - Rich Gannon
1991 - Rich Gannon
1992 - Rich Gannon
1993 - Jim McMahon
1994 - Warren Moon
1995 - Warren Moon
1996 - Brad Johnson
1997 - Brad Johnson
1998 - Randall Cunningham
1999 - Jeff George
2000 - Daunte Culpepper
2001 - Daunte Culpepper
Now, before you say, "Well, that's not so bad," Gannon's quarterback ratings in those three years with the Vikings were 68.9, 81.5, and 72.9. He sure as heck wasn't the guy that was an MVP with the Raiders late in his career. Warren Moon was 38 years old by the time he got to Minnesota. Brad Johnson, while serviceable, will never be confused with Fran Tarkenton. Randall Cunningham had a once in a lifetime season, Jeff George. . .well, same thing (for him, in any case). . .and Culpepper was as raw as it gets in his first two years starting for the Vikings.
To say nothing of the guys that served as backups at quarterback during Carter's Minnesota tenure. . .we're talking Sean Salisbury, who was sending pictures of his junk to people way before other quarterbacks made it less creepy. . .okay, not really less creepy, but still. We're talking Wade Wilson. We're talking Bubby Brister and Todd Bouman and Spergon Wynn.
And all Cris Carter ever did with all of those players is go out and freaking produce. He has the NFL record for the most consecutive games with at least three receptions (58). He's the only player ever to record 120 or more receptions in a season twice (1994 and 1995). He has a list of other achievements that are too long and too incredible to fully list here.
But he's not a Hall of Famer. Just ask the yahoos that vote on these sorts of things.
Oh, well. . .all we can do for now is hope that the people that are on the committee to vote on these things have the wherewithal to unjam their heads from their rectal cavities next year at this time and finally recognize that Cris Carter is, indeed, a Hall of Fame-caliber player.
I just can't believe that they didn't manage to do that this year.