It took six long years of waiting, but Cris Carter has finally been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, recognized as one of the greatest wide receivers in the game. On Saturday, he gave his induction speech, and was incredibly emotional throughout.
Carter had tears in his eyes when he took the podium, and he started out by thanking the selection committee. He said the selection process is "unbelievable," and appreciates that it doesn't matter what you've done, that there is no "slam dunk," referencing the fact that it took him multiple years to get in.
From there, he called this the greatest day of his life, but noted that he wouldn't have ever been able to get to this point without his teammates. The first team that he referenced, though, was his family. He calls his brother Butch Carter his hero for teaching him how to be a good person and how to work hard, and said that every member of his family is entering the Hall of Fame with him.
As an aside, Carter apologized to Ohio State Buckeyes fans, saying that the only regret of his entire athletic career was not being able to play for the Buckeyes in his senior year. He also started his Hall of Fame speech with an emphatic "O-H!" as well and capping it with a rhyme in which he appropriately dubbed himself "Buckeye born and bred".
He then thanked all the people who have been around him the last few years when he didn't make it into the Hall of Fame. He said those people knew what to say and what to do to support him and help him get through it.
Carter said that most Hall of Famers talk about "five people" they've met who got them to where they are. Carter said he had five people as well, and named his mom, his high school football coach, his wife, Reggie White, and the duo of Wheelock Whitney and Betty Trilogy, two people who helped him get sober when he joined the Minnesota Vikings.
It's those people who he thanked the most, and kept the tears flowing as he once again went through his list. He also said that he didn't need a call from the Hall of Fame to know that he is a Hall of Famer – because his mom has been telling him forever.
Carter's pro career got off to a rocky start. Drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1987 supplemental round, Carter struggled with addiction and clashed with coach Buddy Ryan. Ryan released him before the 1990 season, a move that Carter often cites as the moment that turned his life around.
The Minnesota Vikings picked him up off waivers, and he emerged as one of the finest receivers of his era, making eight Pro Bowls and being named to the 1990s All-Decade Team. In 1994, he set the then-single-season record with 122 receptions. At his retirement in 2002, he was second in career receptions (1,101) and receiving touchdowns (130) behind only Jerry Rice.
James Brady contributed to this report.