Sunday, February 7, 2010

Surprised by "What About Cris Carter?" Cries? So Am I

Many of you may be reading this post today because you were stuck in this weekend’s major snowstorm and you have time to catch up on some blog scouring. Others figured that the 6,398 hours of pre-game isn’t enough for your appetite leading to tonight’s Super Bowl.

Yet, since this Scribe is straying from footballish visuals until around kickoff, it’s going to be assumed that there’s plenty of chatter about the upcoming Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010. From the panel of finalists alone, this could have been considered the greatest class ever inducted and for good reason.

There seem to be debates about the selections this year; notably the inclusion of New Orleans Saints sack artist Rickey Jackson and the exclusion of Cris Carter.

First of all, anyone who knows this Scribe personally knows that I abhor the politics of the hallowed Halls of sports; minimum and maximum requirements, the obsession with certain stats and media markets, the elbow-rubbing and contrarian decisions, etc. However, dislike doesn’t equal complete disdain; these Halls represent icons of the games were few people could even make a living, let alone a lasting impression. To not be in awe of the men and women who helped shape the games and even the culture that celebrates them would be absurd.

With that said, it would be unfair to completely speak on Jackson as while he was an outstanding player in his own right, his career began the year before I was born and ended shortly into my teenage years. The Saints were comically awful in much of his tenure and he joined San Francisco as a situational pass rusher for one of the most underrated defensive teams of the 1990s. To debate his merits compared to anyone else would be a bit unfair for me, personally, as I feel that my elementary and junior high school recollections on sports couldn’t be effective criteria for HOF-worthiness.

Now, the “What about Cris Carter?” cries; those are bit more of this Scribe’s speed. It’s not that Carter doesn’t deserve a bronze bust in Canton; he will certainly be inducted by at least next year. However, as I asked earlier on Twitter, what’s with the rally around him as opposed to anyone else?

Last December, Chase Stuart of Pro Football Reference had a comprehensive look at the three wideouts who were on the ballot – Carter, Tim Brown & Andre Reed – behind this year’s inductee, Jerry “The Best That’s Ever Done It and You Know It!” Rice. Stuart says that the statistics make a better case for Brown than Carter and it’s hard to not disagree.

Minnesota got a lot of attention because while they had a big play offense throughout Carter’s tenure, it came up phenomenally short when the lights were brightest. Yet, we tend to forget how good Los Angeles/Oakland truly was. They also came up short fairly often, but those Raiders teams made the AFC West a season-long battle for much of the 1990s and Brown was a major part of it.

Brown, in many regards, was taken for granted; a very good kick returner who blossomed into a strong all-around receiver who was able to grab the deep passes as well as work as a possession receiver if necessary. Likely because he played for the other Bay Area team or that his teams didn’t see Brett Favre – and fawning announcers – twice a year, but Brown wasn’t in the spotlight as much.

Maybe because we see Carter every week as an analyst is that there’s more vocal support for his candidacy. We are habitually visceral creatures; if it’s in our immediate vision and we see it often enough, it’ll stay top of mind for quite a while.

While Carter denied for a third year in a row, the truth was there was no way that the voters were going to let him go in, knowing that Rice was on the 2010 ballot for his unquestioned induction. It may or may not be fair, but a way, to have inducted him would have essentially said that there was a peer to Rice.

Even in the ultimate team sport, there is none.


mindpinball said...

I think that Carter's problem (though I guess that is an unfortunate phrase)is that this year at least, he was up against both Rice and Tim Brown. There is a backlog of good receivers lined up for Hall of Fame consideration (including Shannon Sharpe). At some point, Carter will get in, I agree. It just was not his time, this time. Also, I believe that this year's class allowed a few people to get in who have been waiting in line for awhile re: Jackson, Russ Grimm, Floyd Little and Dick LeBeau.

Jason Clinkscales said...

And it's not that I don't think Carter deserves induction as he does. I think what unnerves me about it all is that A) he was never someone that struck absolute fear in secondaries on his own (Irving Fryar, Randy Moss are obviously who come to mind that helped make him such an end zone threat) and B) I thought that Brown was a better WR.

I also wonder what's with the lack of love (HOF-worthy or not) for some other outstanding WRs in the era. Examples: John Taylor and Herman Moore. Though Rice made YAC famous, Taylor was a great YAC receiver in his own right. Detroit may have had Barry Sanders, but they also had a pretty good tandem by the sidelines with Moore and Johnnie Morton (throw in Brett Perriman, too for good measure). Though injuries slowed Moore down, those guys play very well in the last era of physical secondaries.

mindpinball said...

Great point about Moore; I had forgotten how good he was those years in Detroit.