Many a talented man has spent time as the consensus No. 1 snubee of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee. Lynn Swann held it for 13 years. Al Davis held it for a couple of decades, at least. And Art Monk, Richard Dent and others have all sat where Cris Carter sits today.
Passed over for the fifth consecutive year just two weeks ago, Carter was a guest on Hall of Famer Michael Irvin's WQAM radio show in Miami today. Carter said he doesn't think it's a personal snub but rather the 44-member selection committee's lack of appreciation for the position he played.
“I just think it's the wide receiver,” Carter said. “I think the modern-day wide receiver, I would say that his skill level is not appreciated. It’s not just about the numbers. It’s the ability to catch the football and put your talent on display.”
I've been in three of the four selection meetings in which Carter and other receivers have been discussed. I'm not permitted to give specific details of what's been said, but Carter's comment is accurate. I don't know that it's a lack of appreciation, but for any receiver not named Jerry Rice, there exists a distinct uncertainty among many voters about what separates a Hall of Famer from just another beneficiary of the league's inflated passing numbers.
Throw in multiple receivers to consider and it muddies the water even further. That's why the logjam exists for Carter, Andre Reed and Tim Brown. And it's only going to get worse as the receiving numbers continue to explode in a pass-happy league that gets pass-happier by the year.
Carter had great hands, 130 touchdowns and stretched the field unlike any other player with his ability to tippy-toe the sideline, snare balls that were thrown where only he could catch them and then fall like a two-by-four with his toenails hugging the last blade of in-bounds turf.
But, that being said, Carter also had the incredibly poor timing of being one of the first receivers to soar to ridiculous numerical heights.
He set the NFL record with 122 catches in 1994. A year later, the Lions' Herman Moore caught 123. Seven years later, Marvin Harrison caught 143. Wes Welker caught 122 this season.
Inflated numbers caused by the game's evolution haven't affected other positions. In some cases -- such a sacks for defensive linemen -- the inflated numbers have helped tremendously in recent years. For example, two Vikings defensive linemen -- John Randle and Chris Doleman -- have been selected the past three years on the strength of a combined 288 career sacks.
There are 21 receivers in the Hall of Fame. Only kickers, punters and tight ends have fewer members. An even more telling stat is this: The Hall of Fame has only three receivers -- Jerry Rice, Irvin and Art Monk -- whose careers began in 1980 or later. That's 32 years, folks.
So, yeah, Carter does make a valid point.