Published January 13, 2015
The past meets the present this weekend at the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Enshrinement Festival.
Seven new members will be welcomed into the institution on Saturday headlined by the outspoken Cris Carter, who will speak last despite being the only enshrinee in the year's group without a Super Bowl championship on his resume.
Carter will be joined by offensive lineman Larry Allen, defensive tackles Curley Culp and Warren Sapp, left tackle Jonathan Ogden, linebacker Dave Robinson and head coach Bill Parcells in making up the 2013 class.
Carter was unceremoniously dumped by the Philadelphia Eagles and Buddy Ryan back in 1989 with Ryan firing off his now famous quip "all he does is catch touchdowns." In truth Carter was having off-the-field problems with drugs and alcohol, but turned his life around in Minnesota, which picked up the Ohio State product for a paltry $100 waiver fee.
"Minnesota fans didn't judge me when a lot of bad things were being said about me," Carter said on Friday as the gold anniversary festivities for the Hall of Fame kicked off. "They always cheered for Cris. The only thing I really wish is we could've won that championship for those people. What they did for my life, every day I went out there, I played for those people."
Carter now credits Ryan's decision to cut him from the Eagles for helping him turn his life around and has said the Vikings helped him kick a cocaine addiction and get his drinking under control.
"That day, September 19, 1990, when I stopped drinking, that life choice I made on that day is the most significant thing to getting here," an emotional Carter said. "I just started on that day trying not to have a drink for one week ... and here I am, August 1, 2013, and I still haven't had that drink. And I could have ended doing so many different things than what I am right now."
Parcells, who was the coach of the New York Giants at the time, was actually the first to contact Carter after he was released by the Eagles, but Minnesota was ahead of "Big Blue" in the waiver process. When Carter retired after the 2002 season he was behind only Jerry Rice in all-time receptions and touchdowns.
Some claim Carter was even better than Rice.
"The guy I knew would never drop a ball," Chris Spielman, who played with Carter at Ohio State and against him for 10 seasons as a linebacker with the Detroit Lions, told the Akron Beacon Journal. "If I saw it going his direction when we were playing the Vikings, I said, 'Hopefully we'll knock it down before it gets to him.'"
Carter's college roommate William White, an 11-year NFL player, added: "If you put Cris Carter with Joe Montana for 15 years, what do you think he would have done?"
Two of this year's inductees have Dallas Cowboys connections. The 'Boys and Miami Dolphins will help culminate this weekend's festivities at the 50th Hall of Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium on Sunday night.
Allen was a 10-time Pro Bowl selection and seven-time All-Pro with Dallas after being drafted by the club in the second round of the 1994 NFL Draft out of tiny Sonoma State. The Los Angeles native was so dominant he's was named to both the NFL's 1990s All-Decade Team as well as the 2000s All-Decade Team.
Parcells, meanwhile, although better known for being the two-time Super Bowl- winning coach of the Giants, coached the Cowboys from 2003 to 2006, compiling a 34-30 mark with the team and piloting Dallas to two postseason appearances. Parcells, though, is probably most respected for his willingness to take on rebuilding projects.
"I hate routine. I really do, even it's a successful routine, I don't like it," Parcells said. "I'm just a little ... impatient for the next challenge. That grew as I went along. It did. I can't say that's a great quality."
Ogden was one of the elite left tackles of his generation. He was the first draft pick ever by the Baltimore Ravens and now the franchise's first Hall of Famer after earning a Super Bowl ring in 2000.
"It's somewhat overwhelming," said Ogden. "You look around and there's Joe Greene and Joe Namath. You can't stop naming names."
Sapp, meanwhile, was a standout defensive tackle, who captured a title in 2002 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while Robinson was a big part of Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packer teams and was a part of the first two Super Bowl winning teams. Culp was a pass-rushing marvel at defensive tackle for Kansas City who brought home a championship with the Chiefs in 1969.