Cris Carter will get his due as one of the most prolific receivers in NFL history with his upcoming Hall of Fame induction. Before that, though, he is set to be honored Tuesday at Middletown (Ohio) High School, where he starred in football and basketball, as part of a program put on by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate. The Star Tribune’s Michael Rand caught up with Carter on a number of subjects:
Q Bud Grant received a similar honor last week for his high school prowess, and he said he could recall every game he played in high school. Is it the same for you in terms of memories?
A I’m at a little disadvantage because I played 16 years in the NFL, but I do have great memories from high school. I did read that about Coach Grant, and I do remember a lot of my high school football games, especially my senior year.
Q What do you think you would have done with your life if you hadn’t been an NFL receiver or a pro athlete of any kind?
A I always loved math in high school and I thought that I would be an accountant. But I also thought I would be better at counting money in the NFL [laughs]. … But I did love math, and I wanted to study accounting. … [Numbers] did come easy to me. I thought math, especially when I was younger, is something you either love or hate. I had been blessed to be able to do math and it made me like it.
Q You’re a Hall of Fame receiver, getting set for induction this year. What receivers currently playing do you enjoy watching the most?
A I would say from an older standpoint, I love watching Reggie Wayne and Andre Johnson. I love how they go about their business and how consistent they’ve been throughout their career. Calvin Johnson, we’ve never seen a receiver like him — size, speed and how he’s developed his overall route running and toughness. … Larry Fitzgerald, I’ve spent so much time with him, he’s one of my favorites and one of the best. Roddy White, Julio Jones and A.J. Green, they bring a certain skill level to the position that is great to look at.
Q Do you have one or two particular games that stand out to you from your days with the Vikings now that time has passed and you can reflect on them?
A Maybe the Monday night game we played in Lambeau Field [in 1998]. That was a fun game, with the weather conditions, how we decided to still throw the ball, passing down the field, and winning at Lambeau on Monday Night, that was a great environment. I watched Randy [Moss] dominate, and Randall Cunningham, too.
Q OK, put on your NFL analyst hat. How would you break down the intriguing NFC North this year?
A This could be one of the better divisions in football, if not the best one, if Detroit improves. I believe Marc Trestman is going to do a good job in Chicago. Everything really is up to Jay Cutler. Can they protect him and can he have one of those types of years when he carries them to 10-11 wins? The Vikings got three first-round picks to add to a football team that won 10 games. They made a great decision to trade Percy Harvin, with the picks they were able to get, the lack of being committed to Percy for a long period of time for a tremendous amount of money and getting Greg Jennings over from Green Bay. … But ultimately it’s going to come down to Christian Ponder and can the defense create turnovers. The best team in the division is Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers, I expect him to be the best player, again this year, in the NFL. Eddie Lacy added to that passing attack will be scary. They still have question marks on defense, but I would say Green Bay should still be the favorite.