Many of you know my story by now. I started my Vikings fandom/ love/ unhealthily all-consuming obsession in 1998 as a bandwagon jumper, after watching in amazement as Randy Moss from Marshall plunged through the draft to that team from Minnesota. Intrigued by what this exciting college receiver would do in the NFL, I watched and was naturally enraptured by how that whole season unfolded- right up until the NFCCG, which I would later learn to expect.
Mind you, I have earned my purple-and-gold blood since, because as bandwagoner as my beginnings were, I'm still here. And if you've followed the Vikings for the last decade or so... you know that means a lot.
Anyways, '98 was obviously the Season of Moss, we all know this. But as I grew tired with his antics, immaturity, and general jerkiness, it wasn't long into the early years of my Viking fanhood before my true hero was Cris Carter. I missed his startling journey from the supplementary draft to the Eagles, to the waiver wire and then to the Vikings- but what I did see, I'll never forget. Every time the football was in the air, going towards Carter, I knew we had a reception in store... and often some insane sideline catch at that. The guy was an unnatural talent, and he was generally a class act. My heart was broken when he left for the Dolphins in his final season, even though it was very much a mutual decision at the time.
Cris Carter was truly my first Viking hero, my first favorite player. Yes of course, John Randle, et al were awesome- but Carter was just my number one. I became incensed each and every time he was passed over for the Hall of Fame, and elated when it finally happened.
And today, someone who dresses up like a blogger/ sports writer but really is just a fanboy not too far deep down, got the ultimate privilege- to interview his first Vikings hero. Below is the transcript for my in-depth albeit brief chat with Carter this morning, as he is due for the Hometown Hall of Fame award. Enjoy!
DN: Hello Mr. Carter, thanks for your time this morning. After a long and undeserved wait you were finally inducted into the Hall of Fame. But I understand that, thanks to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate, you will be receiving another award here very shortly.
CC: It's nice to be honored by the Hall of Fame, not just nominated but actually inducted. But thanks to Allstate and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, this award is very special in its own right. You get to go back to the people that helped you, you get to go back to your hometown. The NFL Hall of Fame, it's very geared to the NFL, but when you go for the Hometown Hall of Fame, it's representing ALL of me, all of who I am and all that made me, my past and everyone who was there for me. And they put that plaque there at the high school and it's there forever, and it can inspire new youth and new talent coming up. They can look at it and realize that they can have dreams, that if they have them and set their goals and work towards them, they can achieve those dreams.
DN: Who is presenting this award for you?
CC: My brother Butch. He went to the same high school I did so it works out great. He's seven years apart and growing up, he was a great role model for me, a father figure who I always looked up to, so this is wonderful.
DN: I understand that today we will find out if your son will be joining the Vikings.
CC: No, not today. I don't think we're going to hear back just yet. He's had a good minicamp but now he's going to sit there and see if the call comes, and if it doesn't, then he'll just get back to it and try and get another workout with another team.
DN: Has he communicated with you how he felt it went?
CC: Yeah, some, he said he felt minicamp went well. He enjoyed running around again, running with the football helmet again and being out there for all of that. Just that it felt good to play football again. It just wrapped up yesterday and I haven't spoken to him sense, he's been traveling all night.
DN: I understand that the Vikings have reached out to you to help develop Cordarrelle Patterson, their first round wide receiver pick. Is that correct?
CC: That's... that's kind of correct. I mean, I've worked with a lot of players with the Vikings since I've retired. So it's not anything in particular here. They have this receiver who's only played one year of football, and they're just going to try and figure out what they want to do with him, what spot on the offense he's going to have carved out for him.
DN: What do you think of him in terms of impact? Will he be able to be a big time receiver day one, or is this someone we're going to have to wait a year or two to see his full potential?
CC: Well I haven't seen him play on the field, so I'm not too sure. His initial impact, I think its going to be the things where he's a kick returner, a returner and they're going to use him on the bubble screens and all that. They're going to try and put the football in his hands and see what he can do.
DN: What about Greg Jennings? How do you think that will work for the Vikings?
CC: Greg is going to be a great guy for the Vikings. He's a great, great receiver and he has a lot of football left in him. You saw last year he got injured but if he can stay healthy, it's going to depend on Christian Ponder and how well he can put the football into his hands.
DN: How much will it help Christian Ponder to have that veteran wide receiver?
CC: Well I'm not sure how much it has to do with the receiver, for the quarterback. It's all about their capabilities. But they need that number one receiver, they've needed that because they haven't had that in a long time. You saw with Percy Harvin, can he be a number one receiver... yes, he CAN be, but the Vikings they were using him as such a specialty tool, and they haven't had that number one receiver in a very long time.
DN: So, I always ask- what are your expectations for the Vikings this year after a very busy offseason? Will we have a better year, the same kind of year, or are we going to take a step back?
CC: Well, it's early May... anyone who can make a prediction in early May is a very, very special person. [laughs]
DN: With a re-tooled wide receiver corps, what do you think this does for the identity of the Vikings offense? Are we going to still be going through Adrian Peterson, will we be more balanced, or would we see something along the lines of the aerial attacks from ‘98?
CC: Well, I mean, you know in 1998 that was the best receiving corps in history for the Minnesota Vikings, and we're a long ways away from that now. You know Adrian Peterson, he's one of the best players in the league right now. So you're still going to use him a lot. But in today's NFL you have to be able to throw the ball, not just be a run team. If you want to take down Green Bay, if you want to challenge for the division, you have to be able to get that ball down the field on some of those passes. If you look back, you had a lack of weapons, and you've got AD so you rely on him, and with Ponder being a young quarterback and all yes you're leaning on him. But you've got to get that football in the air, down the field.
DN: I saw you mentioned that you were thinking about just winging your Hall of Fame speech. Is that correct, do you have some ideas what you are going to say?
CC: Well, they always have some outlines for you when you go. I'm not sure yet, I just haven't decided. I might wing it. I mean, even if you wing it you've still got an outline in your head, so you sit there and you know, it's a matter of having the outline in your head or an outline on the podium, but I've still got some time to think about that.
DN: Thank you so much for your time, and congratulations again on two very well deserved awards.
CC: Thank you very much. I'm looking forward to this award and going back home, seeing that plaque placed there and everything.