Sobriety, Vikings turned Carter's Hall of Fame career around

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 15, 2013 - 7:11 AM

Cris Carter on Thursday was in Minnesota and thanked those who helped him become a Hall of Fame receiver.

Sept. 19, 1990, was the most important day of Cris Carter's 16-year NFL career.

Heck, it was the most important day of his 47-year life.

"That was the last day I ever drank," said the Vikings' newest member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Thursday during a news conference at Winter Park.

Carter, who was selected to the Hall of Fame on Feb. 2, spent nearly half an hour reflecting on a stellar career that included two of the best hands in league history. But it wasn't the 1,101 catches, the 13,899 yards or the 130 touchdowns that stood out. It was Carter's teary-eyed recollection of his first few weeks with the Vikings.

Carter arrived as a troubled former Philadelphia Eagles receiver on Sept. 4, 1990. When then-Eagles coach Buddy Ryan took a hard line against Carter's cocaine and alcohol abuse, the Vikings stepped in with a $100 check for the waiver wire fee and a plan for off-field help for Carter.

"I think that 100 bucks has to rank right at the top as the best [bargain] in NFL history," said Jerry Burns, Carter's first Vikings coach, who was at Winter Park on Thursday.

"The first day [in Minnesota] was very, very difficult because I would say the Vikings were somewhat aware of my situation, but not fully aware," Carter said. "But once they opened that file, they became fully aware, realized I had an issue and they put certain steps in place that day."

Carter played in the 1990 season opener, but didn't catch a pass. He played the next two games and didn't catch a pass.

He was a long, long way from getting his life straight.

"My biggest problem was the struggle with cocaine," Carter said. "At that time, I wasn't using [cocaine], but I was still using alcohol."

Carter looked into the background, spotted former Vikings co-owner Wheelock Whitney and thanked him and Whitney's former assistant, Betty Triliegi, a drug and alcohol counselor who worked with the team for nine years during the 1980s and early 1990s.

"Personally, what they did for me, that changed my life," Carter said. "I can stand here today as a man and tell [Whitney] that if you wouldn't have helped me that day when I came here that second week in September, I wouldn't have made it."

On Sept. 19, Triliegi met with Carter in the moment that changed his life.

"Betty issued me a challenge," Carter said. "It was for a week that I wouldn't drink. I haven't had a drink since then."

It was a long week, and then some.

"I was just trying to make it through the week and survive, really," Carter said. "That's what I was really trying to do. Make it through one week.

"But eventually, after surviving, I could feel my body starting to change. I could feel my ability starting to [surface]. I could be really as good as I wanted to be. I upped my conditioning, dropped my body weight and then the rest was history."

Four weeks later, Carter went back to Philadelphia and caught six passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns against the Eagles.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Marshall 52 FINAL
Northern Ill 23
Navy 17 FINAL
San Diego St 16
Central Mich 48 FINAL
Western Ky 49
Fresno State 6 3rd Qtr 11:55
Rice 16
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close