Bengals owner Mike Brown got some attention around the NFL this week when he said that he took Aaron Hernandez off the Bengals’ draft board in 2010 because of concerns about Hernandez’s character. It turns out that many years earlier, Brown also took a future Hall of Famer off the Bengals’ draft board because of character concerns.
Cris Carter, the receiver who was voted into the Hall of Fame this year, said today on ESPN that Brown has told him that the Bengals decided not to draft Carter because they were worried that he wouldn’t be able to stay out of trouble off the field.
“Coming out of college from Ohio State, I was a first-team All-American,” Carter said. “Mike Brown, I’ve talked to him in the last several years. He took me off their list, too. He said he regretted it because I was a local talent and he wished they hadn’t, but he told me, ‘Cris, I took you off our board based on the information we had.'”
Carter was a great player at Ohio State, but he had a drug problem, and he was also banned by the NCAA for hiring an agent before his senior season. The Eagles took Carter with a fourth-round pick in the 1987 supplemental draft — a bargain considering his talent, but a risk considering his off-field issues — and although he played fairly well in his three seasons in Philadelphia, Eagles coach Buddy Ryan ultimately decided Carter’s drug problem was too much to deal with, and Carter was cut.
In the end, Carter got clean and became one of the best receivers in the NFL in Minnesota. But that was only after the team that drafted him let go of him. Which means the Bengals — who have had more than their share of off-field trouble makers — were probably wise to take Carter off their draft board.