For five years the Pro Football Hall of Fame Committee did what no secondary ever could: slow down Cris Carter. From 2008 through 2012, the legendary wideout was denied access to football's most exclusive and prestigious club. Like he did on NFL fields for 16 seasons, however, Carter eventually got where he wanted to go.
While in Columbus, Carter became one of the most prolific receivers in Ohio State history, and was a first team All-American in 1986, catching 65 passes for 1,066 yards, and 11 TDs. He became known for his body control, and an uncanny ability to make one handed sideline catches on his tiptoes.
Carter, became a NFL icon during his 12 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, and was finally voted into the Hall of Fame in February and will be officially inducted on Sunday prior to the annual Hall of Fame Game preseason kickoff. From Troy, Ohio, he was one of the most heavily recruited players out of the state of Ohio, but came to Columbus to play for Earle Bruce. And now, more than 25 years later, he's an NFL Hall of Famer.
Perhaps the highlight of his too brief career in Columbus came in the Citrus Bowl, a play that OSU quarterback Jim Karsatos called "the best catch in college football history":
Said Karsatos: "When I finally saw it on film, he was tiptoeing the sidelines and he jumped up and caught the ball left-handed by the point of the football at least a yard out of bounds. Then he somehow levitated back in bounds to get both his feet in bounds. I swear to this day he actually levitated to get back in bounds. When I saw it on film, it just blew me away."
Carter was originally taken in the fourth round of the 1987 supplemental draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, where he spent three seasons before being cut for off-field issues. He turned both his life and career around after landing in Minnesota (the VIkes claimed on him on the NFL's waiver wire for the paltry price of $100), where he still holds Vikings' records for career receptions, career receiving yards and career touchdowns.
Carter, now 47, racked up 13,899 yards and 130 touchdowns during his career, and has his name littered throughout the NFL record books. He recorded 1,000 yards receiving in eight consecutive seasons and broke the 100-yard mark in 42 games. He led the league in touchdowns three times, his highest total coming with 17 in 1995, a year he also broke the 1,300-yard mark.
In 1998, the Vikings paired Carter with mercurial rookie Randy Moss to create one of the most dynamic wideout duos in league history. The team won 15 games that year but fell in the NFC Championship game, becoming one of the greatest teams in NFL history to not win a Super Bowl. Carter never claimed football's ultimate prize.
Carter also had a good deal of success pairing with four time thousand yard receiver in his own right, Jake Reed. On playing with Reed, Carter told Land-Grant Holy Land, "We spent so much time together, on and off the field. We made a pact with each other; we made a lot of goals behind the scenes (get married, have kids, watch them grow up), and we've grown very close. He was my favorite person that I played with."
In the year 2000, Carter became only the second player in NFL history to reach 1,000 career receptions and ranked second on the NFL's all-time list in receptions and receiving touchdowns at the time of his retirement. The eight-time Pro Bowler became one of four receivers to be named to the All-Decade Team for the 1990s.
After joining the Miami Dolphins for an inglorious final season, Carter retired from the NFL in 2002. He has since gone on to a highly successful career as an ESPN analyst, most notably appearing on the network's Sunday NFL Countdown show.
Carter will join Larry Allen, Curley Culp, Jonathan Ogden, Bill Parcells, Dave Robinson and Warren Sapp as the 2013 Hall of Fame class is enshrined on Saturday evening.
For a man accustomed to reaching pay dirt, it's a fitting place to end a career, and frankly, long overdue.
Jeff Gray, Ted Glover, and Matt Brown contributed to this report.