The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Vikings News

August 1, 2013

Clutch catches set Carter apart

MINNEAPOLIS — Cris Carter's entry into the exclusive club in Canton will be commemorated with a bronze head-and-shoulders bust, like all of the Pro Football Hall of Fame members before him.

His hands might be a more appropriate body part to feature.

Over 16 seasons in the NFL, with fire and grit and flair, Carter exemplified just what a wide receiver is paid to do: catch the ball.

After overcoming some well-publicized troubles in his early years, Carter became a highlight-reel fixture and unflappable performer in the 1990s for the Minnesota Vikings. He wasn't the fastest, the biggest or the most elusive of the bunch, but he made happen some of the most impossible grabs and often did so at the most opportune times.

Tiptoeing both feet at the sideline and successfully pulling in a pass in the split-second before falling out of bounds.

Leaping to his feet after being whistled down and sticking his arm straight out to signal a first down.

Jumping in front of two defenders to corral a ball in the end zone with his fingertips.

Those are the images of what set Carter apart. After missing the cut five times for the Hall of Fame, Carter was finally voted in. He'll be inducted on Saturday with this year's group about a 3½-hour drive from where he grew up in Middletown, Ohio.

"I catch everything that the normal people catch and I catch a few things that no one catches. That's what I used to say to myself before every game," Carter said recently.

Four of his former Vikings teammates, Chris Doleman, John Randle, Randall McDaniel and Gary Zimmerman, preceded Carter with enshrinement over the past five years.

Carter retired after the 2002 season behind only Jerry Rice for all-time receptions and touchdowns. He's fourth in those categories now, passed by Tony Gonzalez and Marvin Harrison in catches and Randy Moss and Terrell Owens in scores. Wherever he landed on those lists was always going to be a product of his fierce determination.

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