The ongoing flap between Cris Carter and Randy Moss is nothing new. The situation may have changed, but there is no question that the argument has become more deeply rooted than back when both were toiling for the Vikings.
One thing fans have to understand is that elite professional athletes almost by necessity need to have a big ego. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal all have it. Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols all have it. Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Joe Montana all have it.
It’s part of the business of sports. Players believe they are the best at what they do. It gives them the competitive edge. For years, Carter forged his lasting legacy as a big-play receiver for the Vikings who made the spectacular catch look routine. Then came Randy.
The love-hate relationship between Carter and Moss runs deep. As a veteran team leader and an old-school type of football player, Carter was extremely hard on Moss and Daunte Culpepper. He had sway with head coach Dennis Green and wasn’t shy about demonstrating his style of leadership by yelling in the face of both Moss and Culpepper. It was done with a purpose – Carter legitimately wanted to make both of them better by imparting the wisdom he had picked up over the years. He often did it with the sound turned way up and very up close and personal.
On Wednesday, Carter appeared on Miami radio station WQAM and “The Michael Irvin Show” to talk about everything from being snubbed from the Hall of Fame to Moss. With arguably the prototype diva receiver (Irvin) feeding him the questions, you knew you were in for some interesting banter. Carter didn’t disappoint, but added fuel to those who speculate his end of the argument is based on a longstanding jealousy of Moss’ skills.
If asked directly if he was jealous of Moss, Carter might actually admit that there is an element of envy there. If you had a player with Moss’ talent and Carter’s work ethic on Sundays, you would have a player better than Jerry Rice – the unanimous selection as the best player to ever play his respective position.
The currency for wide receivers is based on yardage and touchdowns. It is what gets them big contracts and, for the most part, gets them into the Hall of Fame. That hasn’t held true for Carter, who has come close to getting in ever since he became eligible, but has been passed over time after time after time.
Carter told Irvin that he was convinced he was going to get into the Hall because of his numbers in his first year of eligibility. By any standard, they are impressive stats, but, as the Hall of Fame voters have shown, it isn’t the only standard by which induction is measured.
“I felt good my first year (of eligibility),” Carter said. “I am the only person alive that’s eligible for the Hall of Fame that has 130 touchdowns that is not in. So, when you have a stat like that – you’ve got more touchdowns than Jim Brown and Walter Payton – I mean, I’m not campaigning for the Hall of Fame. For me, the list (of candidates) doesn’t change every year. My numbers ain’t going to change. It’s just too much productivity over the time – like, I have no argument, Mike. I really don’t.”
Perhaps in that statement Carter explained why he isn’t in the Hall of Fame. Lynn Swann was never a 1,000-yard receiver during his career. At no time when he played was Art Monk viewed as the dominant receiver in the game. Carter was both. Swann and Monk are in the Hall just as much because they won championships as to their contributions in those years that their teams won. The only number that really mattered for their induction was One – as in, “We’re No. 1” in a given season.
As expected, the topic changed to Moss and Carter provided an interesting perspective as to why the Bears might have an interest in him – former Vikings head coach Mike Tice.
“I believe the best place for him is New England,” Carter said. “I believe a team that might want to look at him is Chicago with Jay Cutler and Mike Tice, because (Moss) and Tice get along great. He has respect for Tice. Jay Cutler and Moss? I think they could work that out.”
An unfortunate byproduct of the Carter-Moss public debates, ranging from Moss’ rambling streaming video manifestos to Carter’s insistence of throwing gasoline on an unnecessary fire, is a clash of egos that goes way back to their Vikings days. Need an example? Here you go:
With all the underlying competition between Moss and Carter, when Moss signed his second contract with the Vikings, he became the highest paid wide receiver in NFL history. He did it the old-fashioned way – he earned that spot – and he was splashed across the front pages of the local newspapers and was the top story on the news … not the top sports story, the top story when the local news reports began. It was big news.
The day after the news got out of the contract extension for Moss, Carter let it be known that he might be retiring at the end of the season. It knocked Moss off the front page and the top of the news and replaced him with Carter. It was an ego that was bruised. You get the feeling that, years later, the same scenario is playing out.
Maybe Carter will get in the Hall of Fame before Moss becomes eligible. The competition could get really heated if the two are fighting for the same spot in the hallowed halls of Canton.
If Moss does return, it would ruin the potential dream scenario of the Hall of Fame class of 2016. As it currently stands, Brett Favre, Moss and Terrell Owens all didn’t play in the regular season in 2011. If none of them returns, they would all be eligible for the Class of ’16, which could potentially be epic for the speeches each would give. Must-see TV to say the least.
During his State of the State address Wednesday, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said that lawmakers are getting close to a Vikings stadium site, a deal and a bill that can pass in 2012, adding that the Legislature has to quit avoiding the Vikings issue beyond the current session. The Feb. 15 deadline for the Vikings to officially sign paperwork to begin discussions with other cities and relocating the franchise came and went Wednesday. If a deal doesn’t get done this year, don’t expect the Vikings to be as cooperative next year, after dozens of concessions to make a stadium deal a reality only to have more hurdles thrown in front of them.
Former Viking Kenechi Udeze, whose playing career was cut short by leukemia, has joined the coaching staff of the Seattle Seahawks. Udeze played his college football at USC, where Seattle head coach Pete Carroll was the head coach at the time.
It seems with each passing day the comparisons are being made between Peyton Manning’s current situation and Brett Favre. At its heart, there are several parallels. Both Favre and Manning are victims of a franchise prepared to move on with an unproven youngster at quarterback. Aaron Rodgers proved to be the right decision and many believe Andrew Luck’s greatness will only be a matter of time in coming. But Favre still wanted to play. The Packers wanted him to stay retired and, when push came to shove, they traded him to the Jets (with the promise they wouldn’t turn around and trade him to the Vikings). Manning may end up in much the same position. He believes he still has good football left in him, but the Colts are looking to go in a different direction and have the golden opportunity to draft their QB of the next 10-15 years. Expect the comparisons to continue, especially as the decision deadline by the Colts to give him a $28 million bonus or release him continues to draw closer.
Less than three years ago, the Washington Redskins gave Albert Haynesworth a massive $100 million contract that included $41 million in guaranteed money. On Wednesday, he was cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, potentially ending one of the stranger sports odysseys in recent memory. After the lockout ended last July, Haynesworth was traded to the New England Patriots for a fifth-round draft pick. He was released by the Patriots on Nov. 8. At that point, New England was 5-3. They won all eight regular-season games after his release. He was claimed by the Buccaneers, who, at the time, were 4-4. Tampa lost all eight games in which Haynesworth was on the team.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.