Posted at 8:01 PM on January 28, 2009
by David Zingler
On Sunday another Super Bowl will come and go without a Vikings victory. On Saturday however, there may actually be something to cheer about for the Purple faithful. Three longtime Vikings are among the finalists for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
For those of us who came of age in the 1990s, Cris Carter, Randall McDaniel and John Randle will always hold a special place in Vikings lore. They defined that era. Of the three, it is Carter who stands the best chance of being enshrined in Canton this August.
Carter used his amazing hands, remarkable body control and deceptive speed (he never got enough credit for that) to amass more catches and touchdown receptions than any player not named Jerry Rice when he retired in 2002.
During the 1990s, Dennis Green plowed through quarterbacks and buffet lines with equal ease. Carter caught passes from Wade Wilson, Rich Gannon, Sean Salisbury, Jim McMahon, Warren Moon, Brad Johnson, Randall Cunningham, Jeff George, Daunte Culpepper, Todd Bouman and Spergon Wynn in his tenure with the Vikings. No matter who was behind center, Carter moved the chains and found the endzone.
Carter's main competition for All Pro honors in those days, Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin, spent the vast majority of their careers catching balls from Hall of Famers Joe Montana, Steve Young and Troy Aikman. Other than Moon, who started 39 games for the Vikings from 1994-96; none of Carter's QBs will find their way to Canton.
In my mind, Cris Carter is a Hall of Famer hands down. After being passed up last year, his first of eligibility, Carter should be voted in on Saturday. From what I've been able to surmise, the consensus seems to be with me.
That being said, I've seen some bizarre arguments against Carter. Michael David Smith at nfl.fanhouse.com claims Carter "was never the best wide receiver in football and for much of his career was not even the best wide receiver on his own team."
It's true that Carter always lived in Rice's shadow, which is nothing to be ashamed of. Rice is arguably the best football player of all time and is unanimously considered the greatest wide receiver ever. You can't hold that against Carter, by that logic Michael Irvin shouldn't be in the Hall either.
The second part of that sentence is what gets me. From 1991-97 Carter was the unquestioned focal point of the Vikings offense. He was the face of the franchise and the Viking's MVP of that era. You could even make the case he remained so even after Randy Moss arrived. I just don't think it's necessary. Both players are Hall of Famers, why bother?
I am also believer that McDaniel and Randle are Canton worthy, both were perennial Pro Bowlers and were the best at their positions for an extended period of time. For some reason however, all signs point to the pair being passed over in 2009. I do think their day will come.
If Carter is left out of the Hall again on Saturday it will be just one more January letdown for Vikings fans. But hey, we're used to it.
(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)