We’ve all come to know and love Cris Carter, the famous wide receiver who helped Minnesota Vikings score many victories from 1990 to 2001. But how much do you know about the life of the NFL hall of famer, and the struggles he had to deal with outside the football field. In this post, I will give you a brief outline of Cris Carter’s life and his career starting from his baby days to his becoming an ESPN commentator after retirement.
Early Life and College Career
Cris Carter was born in Troy, Ohio, on November 25, 1965, where he spent his early childhood years with his mother and five siblings. He later went to high-school in Middletown, where began his sport career in both basketball and football along with his brother Butch.
Cris eventually opted for football and started carving his way toward a professional career by going to Ohio State University, where he was welcomed by the Buckeyes’ head coach, Earle Bruce. As a freshman, newly arrived Carter made his presence felt in Columbus. According to ESPN records, he set the Rose Bowl receiving record on that year with 172 yards.
Carter continued to improve in his sophomore and third year by setting new records and leading his team to great achievements, and was slated to soon be drafted as an NFL rookie.
The Norby Walters Scandal
But young (and naive) Carter learned a hard lesson early in his career as he became one of many college athletes to be victimized by Norby Walters, a booking agent for entertainment acts who had decided to try his hand at representing professional athletes through a complicated scheme that involved giving zero-interest loans and monthly payments to hopeful college players.
By casting his lot with Walters, Carter became subject to an FBI investigation, was declared ineligible to play for the Buckeyes in the 1897 season, and was given a $15,000 fine and ordered to perform 600 hours community service. So much for accepting cheap loans.
Early Professional career with Philadelphia Eagles
Carter was eventually drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1987 supplemental draft, where he performed poorly in his rookie season. But improvement came in the second season, where he marked his career’s record 80-yard touchdown.
His third year was success as well, but was met with controversy when, despite his record-breaking performance, he was suddenly cut by head coach Buddy Ryan.
Drug abuse problem
It soon became evident that the reason for Carter’s dismissal had been his alcohol and cocaine addiction, and he had flunked three drug tests while playing for the Eagles.
I’ve seen many players go down hard after being delivered such a blow. But Carter was a fighter, and he didn’t give up. Being waived by the Eagles served as a wake-up call, and he overcame his addictions, turned his life, and went on to continue his professional career playing for the Minnesota Vikings from 1990 to 2001.
Listen this podcast as Chris talks about his experience with substance abuse and what it takes to recover from addiction.
Carter started with the Vikings with a clean slate, and began improving his career season after season. He set his personal best records in his second season, where he registered 72 receptions and 962 receiving yards.
Having put past problems behind, Carter worked hard and improved his career with the Vikings in the next 12 years. He eventually left the Vikings in 2001, after recording his name as the team’s all-time leader in receptions (110), receiving yards (12,383) and touchdowns (110).
Carter’s struggles in Ohio state and Philadelphia and the way he overcame them made him a hero and savior for many of the youth who later decided to follow his footsteps.
Hall Of Fame And Post-Retirement Career
Since retiring from the NFL, Carter has done sports journalism and commentary stints for HBO’s Inside the NFL, ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown, and Yahoo Sports. He’s also an assistant coach at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, where his son played wide receiver.
On August 3, 2013, on the eve of Super Bowl XLVII, Carter finally became a hall of famer in the NFL history, a title well-deserved.
At the time of this writing (2015), Chris Carter works as an NFL analyst for ESPN. One of the not so bright moments of his career as an NFL analyst, which made a lot of buzz, was when he advised players during the 2014 NFL Rookie Symposium to have a fall guy in their crew in case the player got in trouble. This statement raised a lot of opposition, with ESPN itself disagreeing with Cris’ statement saying that it does not reflect the company’s point of view by any means, and Chris himself apologizing on Twitter and admitting he was very wrong.