Newly elected Pro Football Hall of Famer Cris Carter isn’t shy about proclaiming himself the receiver with the best hands in the history of the game. But he’s gracious enough to acknowledge that there’s one receiver who’s in the same ballpark.
In a first-person feature written with Bob Sansevere of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Carter says that Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald is the one and only receiver whose hands are worthy of being compared to Carter’s own.
“Larry Fitzgerald Jr. is the only person I’d say is comparable. I have never said anybody had better hands than me. No, I haven’t seen that. Catching the football is a gift. You can’t teach that. But Larry is the only one that’s comparable,” Carter said.
Although Carter won’t win any awards for humility, the first-person feature is a fascinating look back at his career. He mentions, for instance, that he admires his old coach Buddy Ryan and thinks Ryan has gotten a bum rap for cutting Carter in Philadelphia and saying, “All he does is catch touchdowns.”
“If I can go back in time, I’d probably go right before Buddy Ryan cut me, to change it. I would do exactly what I did with the Vikings [get clean, which would have meant] I never would have come to the Vikings,” Carter said. “I knew exactly what Buddy was doing. He told me he would never reveal my past [drug and alcohol abuse] to anyone. Someone asked him a question, ‘Why did you cut him?’ And he said, ‘Well, he only caught touchdowns. He wasn’t a complete receiver.’ It was what he decided to do to try to protect me.”
Carter also puts the blame for the fact that he never got to a Super Bowl squarely on a pair of teammates who blew a pair of plays in the 1998 NFC Championship Game loss to the Falcons.
“If I can change one thing about my life, Gary Anderson would make that damn kick,” Carter said. “And then Jimmy Hitchcock would not get beat on a third and 9 on an out and up.”
Fifteen years doesn’t seem to be long enough for Carter to get over that loss.