Cris Carter a Close Call in Pro Football Hall of Fame Voting
TAMPA -- When the 44 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Selectors get together Saturday to choose the Class of 2009, the most hotly contested candidate is likely to be Cris Carter.
One Hall of Fame voter told me that there are a few people in the room who will be adamantly opposed to Carter, on the grounds that (in these voters' minds) he was basically just a possession receiver who lacked deep speed and big play ability. There are also voters who argue that Carter (who played three seasons with the Eagles, 12 with the Vikings and one with the Dolphins) was never the best wide receiver in football and for much of his career was not even the best wide receiver on his own team.
That's a minority viewpoint; the majority of Hall of Fame voters will argue on Saturday that Carter is worthy. But candidates need at least 80 percent of the vote to get selected, so all it takes is nine voters who take a negative view of Carter, and he's out of luck.
Carter's raw numbers are solid: he had 1,101 catches, putting him third on the all-time list, his 130 receiving touchdowns are good for fourth all time, and his 13,899 receiving yards ranks seventh in NFL history. But those numbers also point to one of the problems for Carter, according to the voter I talked to: Every year, the numbers look less impressive as more active wide receivers pass him.
Carter was voted down last year when he was second all-time in catches, third in touchdowns and sixth in yards. In 2008 Marvin Harrison passed Carter in catches, Randy Moss passed him in touchdowns and Terrell Owens passed him in yards. Seeing Carter drop in the all-time rankings might embolden some of the voters who were opposed to his candidacy a year ago.
Ultimately, I believe Carter will one day get a bust in Canton. My only question is whether it's going to happen for him this year, or whether he will, like Art Monk before him, be the wide receiver who spends a decade as a bridesmaid before the Hall of Fame voters make him a bride.