Hartman: Carter has done about-face on his attitude toward Moss

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 17, 2012 - 6:43 AM

Cris Carter came to teammate Randy Moss' defense 10 years ago; that doesn't appear to be the case these days.

Former Vikings wide receiver Cris Carter

Photo: Mckenna Ewen, Star Tribune

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One of the big stories in the NFL the past few days is Cris Carter's interview on ESPN's "Mike & Mike" where Carter was very critical of his former Vikings teammate Randy Moss by saying, "Randy, not like any other superstar I've met, he has more quit in him than any of those other players."

Carter added, "But Randy, when things don't go well, like no other player I've ever been around or associated with, he has a quit mechanism in him that's huge. That needs to be addressed before he signs with any team."

Well, Carter and Moss were teammates with the Vikings from 1998 to 2001. And when I visited the Vikings locker room almost every day when the press was allowed in, they got along very well.

If you refer to a column I wrote more than a decade ago, it appears that Carter has had a complete change of opinion regarding Moss.

The date of the newspaper was Nov. 23, 2001, and in my column, Moss was quoted as saying, "I play when I want to play."

I had a special relationship with Moss. He hardly ever talked to any other member of the media during his time here.

On the day of publication, a number of media members were trying to get Moss to deny he ever made that statement, but Moss was firm in telling the doubters that I quoted him correctly.

While Carter is being very critical of Moss these days, on that particular day, he defended Moss 100 percent by trying to explain what Moss had told me.

"I don't believe any player plays 100 percent all the time," Carter was quoted in my column. "If you look at other people's occupation, are they doing the best they can every day? Of course not. [ Moss'] ceiling is so high that when he doesn't play up to his ability, I don't think it is intentional. When he doesn't play up to the level we have seen, it is drastically different than what we have been accustomed to."

Carter at the time denied lecturing Moss when the younger receiver backed into the end zone on a touchdown against the Giants and was fined $10,000 by the NFL. Carter did say he had talked to Moss about playing to his potential.

Carter was further quoted that day as saying Moss "can be as good as you have ever seen" and pointed out that Moss had problems with his right ankle and had a similar problem fixed the previous season.

"He has been nicked," Carter said. "Is he healthy now? You don't get healthy now, you get healthy in the offseason. It has an effect on his ability to do certain things."

Bears a good fit

Meanwhile in Chicago, there was talk about how well Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice got along with Moss when Tice was both an assistant and head coach with the Vikings, and that the 35-year-old Moss would make a great addition to the Bears receiving corps.

Carter said as much on Michael Irvin's radio show in Miami earlier this week, saying: "I believe a team that might want to look at him is Chicago with Jay Cutler and Mike Tice because him and Mike Tice get along great. He has respect for Tice. Jay Cutler and Moss? I think they could work that out."

Moss was with the Vikings for seven years (excluding 2010). Tice served as tight ends coach the first five seasons, then was head coach of the Vikings in 2003 and '04.

My information was that Tice opposed trading Moss after the 2004 season, but the trade to Oakland was at least partly forced by the Red McCombs ownership to avoid paying Moss' big contract.

U wrestlers ready

The Gophers wrestling team won the NWCA National Dual Regional on Sunday after defeating Kent State 35-3 in the semifinal and Missouri 26-7 in the championship.

That means the Gophers will move onto the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Dual Finals which will act as the first Final Four in college wrestling history. The tournament will be held at Oklahoma State on Sunday. The Gophers, the No. 3 seed, face No. 2 seed Iowa. The Hawkeyes defeated the Gophers 19-17 in Iowa City on Jan. 29.

Gophers coach J Robinson worked for more than 25 years to implement this type of tournament format, and is excited to be a part of it. "It's the first time there's ever been one, so why wouldn't we be excited?" Robinson said. "We get a chance to wrestle two of the three [teams] who beat us this year." Top seed Oklahoma State beat the Gophers 23-14 on Dec. 4.

The Gophers have only two seniors who have played major roles in their success this year, Zach Sanders and Sonny Yohn, so Robinson sees 2012-13 as a possible NCAA title season. Sanders is ranked No. 2  in the nation at 125 pounds, Yohn No. 6 at 197.

Jottings

• Missing Trevor Mbakwe has been big for the Gophers men's basketball team, which is 11-9 since he went down to a knee injury. The Gophers were 6-0 with Mbakwe before they lost to Dayton in the game he tore his ACL.

• The Timberwolves' victory Wednesday was their 14th in 30 games. Here's how long it took them to reach 14 victories in recent seasons: 2010-11, 60 games; 2009-10, 58; 2008-09, 41; and 2007-08, 62. ... Wolves center Nikola Pekovic put up his seventh double-double in 11 games.. ... Ricky Rubio, who leads the NBA in steals at 2.43 per game, had four steals Wednesday vs. Charlotte for his 17th game of the season with three or more steals. If he keeps it up, he would be the first rookie to lead the league in steals since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976.

• Former Gophers hockey player Evan Kaufmann is set to be the first post-World War II Jewish player who lost family members in the Holocaust to represent Germany in an international sport, according to the Daily Mail in Britain. The Armstrong graduate, who plays for the Duesseldorf-based Metro Stars, will play for the German national team this weekend in Belarus.

• Sean Burroughs, who is making a baseball comeback with the Twins and was recently featured in a column by Patrick Reusse, hit .316 in 38 games in the Venezuelan Winter League for the Margarita Braves.

• Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph was named to Pro Football Weekly's All-Rookie team. Defensive end Jared Allen was the only Vikings player to make the publication's All-Pro team. ... More than 400 people, a good number of them former Vikings and other NFL players, will attend a NFL banquet Saturday night at the Hilton Hotel in Minneapolis to raise money for a variety of children's charities.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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