In five days, former NFL receiver Cris Carter will join the Hall of Fame in Canton. And if, as John Madden believes, the busts talk to each other at night, they’re about to get an earful from Carter’s bronze likeness. (Not to mention Warren Sapp’s.)
While the protocol for the week will be to say nice things about the inductees, former Vikings teammate Qadry Ismail went off script Sunday, telling it like it is (or at least like he saw it) regarding Carter.
“To be perfectly honest with you, Cris was a bona fide diva,” Ismail told SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio. “That dude would make, as far as his play, some outstanding one-handed grabs in practice to the point where when we got to the game we were just like, people would be like, ‘Oh, no!’ And we were like, ‘Yeah, and? Well, that’s just kind of Cris Carter.’ However, to me, when I say the greatest guy that I played with was Shannon Sharpe, because he raised the game up for me as a player. I know there would be times when we’d get in the huddle and he’d look over at me and go, ‘Q, we need to make a play.’ Or whatever it might have been in that moment. And I swear to you it would be like, ‘Oh my god, I’m going to make a play because Shannon just called me out.’ And sure enough, boom, it would be there. Shannon was that kind of a guy that you just knew that he was in your corner. You couldn’t say the same thing for Cris Carter. You couldn’t say the same thing as far as his attitude towards his teammates. You couldn’t say the same thing as far as his attitude as far as the coaching staff. You knew that he had a selfishness to him that was an extreme selfishness.”
The characterization won’t really shock anyone. Carter wanted the ball, and he wasn’t afraid to say so — even if it meant berating anyone who was keeping him from getting it.
“Could he flat out make catches? Absolutely. Could he flat out make plays? Absolutely. But there’s a reason why they didn’t go all the way and win Super Bowls,” Ismail said. “There’s a reason why, that his talent was good, but when you talk about Jerry Rice talent you also talk about that team elevating it to the next level to win championships. When you talk about Shannon’s talent you are talking about that team elevating and winning championships. When you are talking about talent, there’s one thing to have talent but, to me, if you’re a complete, amazing football player, others around you rise up to whatever their level of talent is.”
Ismail emphasized that he believes Carter belongs in the Hall of Fame. The point is that Carter’s style kept him from lifting the rest of his teammates to Carter’s level.
It won’t matter on Saturday, when Carter receives the highest individual honor any sport can provide. We wonder whether he’d trade that for one Super Bowl ring.
Based on Ismail’s comments, the honest answer apparently would be, “Hell no.”