FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- I talked to Cris Carter a little while ago. He's obviously disappointed about getting denied access to the Hall of Fame for the third consecutive year.

But he said he's keeping his spirits up.

"I don't have any other choice," he said.

I was one of the 44 Hall of Fame selectors. I presented Carter, who didn't get in, and John Randle, who did get in.

I'm not allowed to give specifics of what is said in the room. But I can explain in general terms why Carter is still waiting while many fans believe he should have gotten in two years ago.

Talking to long-time selectors who are well into double digits in years of service on the committee, they all said this was one of the most impressive fields in many years.

No more than five modern-era players can make it in one year. Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith got two of those the minute they were put on the ballot. We didn't even discuss those two players because their careers spoke loudly enough.

So that was three spots for 13 players. Players like Russ Grimm, who had been a finalist for six consecutive years. Grimm was the best linemen of the famous Redskins' Hogs. Not one of the Hogs was in the Hall of Fame until Grimm got in today.

It's hard to argue with finally recognizing the best player on the best offensive line of the 1980s, if not one of the best ever.

The argument I made for Randle was simple: He was the best defensive tackle of the 1990s. By a mile. So it's hard to argue with putting him in.

And Rickey Jackson had numbers similar to Lawrence Taylor. Rickey was an outstanding player who was a finalist for the first time after being eligible for 10 years. He kind of fell through the cracks since he played in New Orleans.

The biggest surprise when we went from 15 to 10 was seeing Carter get cut. He made the final 10 last year. Andre Reed made the final 10 this year.

I clearly think Carter should be the first receiver in the Hall of Fame behind Jerry Rice. His touchdown total (130) and talent both suggest that's the pecking order. Now that Rice is in, perhaps Carter will get in next season.

It's not giving away trade secrets to say the selectors are struggling with how to judge the numbers being posted by receivers in the modern passing game. I think Carter, Reed and Brown will all get in eventually. That would give us five receivers from the 1990s, including Rice and Michael Irvin. That's not an outrageous number by any means.