Carter hangs up turf shoes

Posted: Wednesday, May 22, 2002

MINNEAPOLIS -- After 15 years, 1,093 catches, 129 receiving touchdowns -- but no Super Bowl rings -- Minnesota Vikings receiver Cris Carter announced his retirement from football Tuesday.

He will join HBO's ''Inside the NFL'' show as a co-host.

''It has been a tremendous ride, and that ride has come to a stop,'' Carter said in a conference call. ''I wanted to play football, but I had to be in the right situation, and I did not want the opportunity with HBO to pass me by.''

The announcement marks a sloppy end to Carter's decorated, and sometimes tumultuous, playing career. He voided his contract with the Vikings before the start of this year's free agency period because he wanted to sign with a team closer to winning a Super Bowl.

It appeared Carter was going to sign with the St. Louis Rams in early March, but that ended when he had to delay an appointment with Rams coaches and players because he was in Cleveland trying to reach a deal with the Browns. The Cleveland deal fell through, the Rams said no thanks, and so did the Miami Dolphins. Suddenly, a likely Hall-of-Famer was left without a team.

Enter: HBO.

Carter, 36, will join broadcaster Bob Costas, former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino and former Cincinnati Bengals receiver Cris Collinsworth in the cable network's studio show, which opens its 26th season Sept. 12.

''Adding Cris puts together one of the more dynamic and really powerful groups of announcers in television,'' HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg said.

Carter, who played at Ohio State, spent his first three NFL seasons in Philadelphia, where he admitted to abusing drugs and alcohol.

The Vikings claimed him off waivers in 1990, and Carter's production on the field soared after that. He ends his career ranked second in NFL history behind Jerry Rice in catches and receiving touchdowns and third behind Rice and James Lofton in receiving yards (13,833).

''When I went to Minnesota, I was a young kid, when I left, I was a full-grown man,'' Carter said. ''I gained my sobriety there. There are so many things about Minnesota I will never forget. I will always be indebted to the people of Minnesota.''

Before last season's 5-11 debacle, marred by the training camp death of offensive lineman Korey Stringer, Carter played in eight consecutive Pro Bowls. In 1994, he set a then-NFL single-season record for receptions with 122. On Nov. 30, 2000, against the Detroit Lions, Carter caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Daunte Culpepper to join Rice as the only players in history to catch 1,000 career passes.

''As a friend and former teammate of Cris, I'm proud of all of his accomplishments,'' Vikings head coach Mike Tice said in a prepared statement. ''I only wish he could've gotten his cherished prize -- a Super Bowl ring.''

Lately, though, Carter became known as much for his antics on the sidelines as he was for his one-handed stabs in the end zone. During several games last year, cameras caught him arguing with players and coaches. He issued an apology after a sideline tirade against the Chicago Bears in Week 2 and tangled with players and former head coach Dennis Green throughout the season.

''Everything went back to the second day of camp when Korey died,'' Carter said. ''I think it was a year of a maximum amount of stress. ... Ultimately it gets back to a team playing bad football. It's not about Cris Carter.''

Carter said last season was not a factor in his decision to retire, nor was his lack of a Super Bowl ring.

''I don't feel like because I didn't win a championship that I was not successful,'' Carter said. ''Look at Andre Rison who won a championship with Green Bay. Are you saying his career is more successful than mine? Look at Alvin Harper, who won a couple of Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys. Are you saying his career is as successful as mine? I wouldn't say that.

''I think that I maximized my ability, I did all that I could do. ... I left everything I had in football. Could I have played longer? Of course I could. ''

Carter said the Dolphins couldn't pay him what he wanted. He also said he regretted making the trip to Cleveland that ultimately cost him a shot at playing for the Rams.

He said he'll always have the urge to play, but it's time to move on.

''As an athlete, you'll always have a feeling to play. That will never leave,'' Carter said. ''HBO is not replacing the NFL for me, it's just another phase of my life. ... I would love to play but I had to make a decision.''

Carter also didn't rule out owning a team in the future, including the Vikings, whose current owner Red McCombs announced yesterday that he will consider moving or selling the team if it doesn't get a new stadium.

''I'm sure I'll be having conversations with people in the very near future as far as what is the future of the Vikings and I hope that future is in Minnesota,'' Carter said. ''I do have people I would like to be with as far as them having a group of people to buy the team.''

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