Cris Carter's road to the Pro Football Hall of Fame was paved with some large roadblocks.
The wide receiver strugged with drug and alcohol abuse during his first three seasons in the league with the Eagles -- a statistically productive but personally destructive period in which he failed two drug tests and nearly got himself suspended for a full season.
After the death of legendary NFL coach Buddy Ryan, who served as the Eagles head coach when Carter played in Philadelphia, the wideout posted a tribute to Ryan:
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The "tough love" refers to Ryan's decision to cut the troubled wideout during the 1990 preseason. Carter has explained that he reached rock bottom after that jolt and subsequently turned his life around:
"My bottom was getting cut and I was so upset because even though they cut me, I wasn't using at the time," Carter said in 2014. "They cut me because they couldn't trust me. At the time, I had only flunked two tests. The next one, I would've been suspended for a year. I was clean for over six months at the time I got cut."
The Minnesota Vikings claimed the surehanded Carter off waivers and the rest is history. Carter also discussed Ryan's infuence during his Hall of Fame enshrinement speech in 2013:
"My teammates from Philadelphia where I was drafted, the Philadelphia Eagles organization, they took a chance on me. Buddy Ryan drafted me, and he tried to grow me up in the league. What Buddy Ryan did was the best thing that ever happened for me when he cut me and told me I couldn't play for his football team. But he told me a story. He told me the night before he went on and talked to his wife, and he asked his wife what he should do. And his wife told him, don't cut Cris Carter. He's going to do something special with his life. So Buddy Ryan, and your lovely wife, I thank you. You're going into the hall with me tonight."