The message was absurd and repugnant and so plain dumb that it felt like a bad skit.
Except this wasn’t a comedy. Wasn’t even remotely funny.
The latest NFL controversy — a daily occurrence, it seems — comes courtesy of former Vikings star Cris Carter, who told a roomful of NFL rookies at a league-sanctioned symposium last year that they need a “fall guy” in their “crew” to take the collar should their behavior turn criminal.
Again, he wasn’t joking. He was dead serious. He even wore his Hall of Fame jacket as he lectured the rookies about the importance of finding a scapegoat for legal trouble.
“If you’re going to have a crew,” Carter boasted, “one of them fools got to know he’s going to jail. We’ll get him out.”
Video of Carter’s talk surfaced this weekend.
Where? On the NFL’s own website. Apparently, the video had been there for more than a year.
Let’s put that in a different context.
Imagine you take a new job. You’re excited, maybe a little nervous. You’re eager to learn.
At an orientation for new hires, the company invites a guest speaker who worked there previously to address the group. He was a star employee once. You respect his insight.
As part of his speech, the former employee encourages you to get a “fall guy” who is willing to take the rap if you find trouble. The company then keeps a video of that training session on its website for an entire year.
Sound ludicrous? Of course it is.
The NFL never pretends to operate in the same manner as other corporations, but Carter’s flapdoodle and the league’s weird decision to post that video is shameful on so many levels.
Not surprisingly, the league pulled the video down and issued a statement condemning Carter’s words once the story went viral Sunday.
What the league didn’t divulge is why it left the video on its website for more than a year. Was that just an unfortunate oversight, or did it become disgusted only once it mushroomed into a controversy?
Carter issued his own apology Monday, saying the “video has made me realize how wrong I was. I was brought there to educate young people and instead I gave them very bad advice. Every person should take responsibility for his own actions. I’m sorry, and I truly regret what I said that day.”
Know who deserves an apology more than anyone? Teddy Bridgewater.
In the video, Carter invites the Vikings quarterback on stage to make his point about finding a fall guy.
Watch the video. Bridgewater looks uncomfortable throughout the quick exchange. His body language suggests he wishes he could be anywhere else but that exact spot at that moment.
By first impressions, Bridgewater doesn’t need a fall guy. He’s done nothing but conduct himself with class and maturity since arriving in Minnesota.
Carter’s message represented a warped sense of priorities, and it surfaced at a time when the NFL’s image and precious “shield” can’t look any more tarnished.
Commissioner Roger Goodell has lost all credibility with players for his penchant in applying inconsistent punishment and ruling in the manner of judge, jury and executioner.
Incredibly, Goodell has turned football inflation levels into World War III against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. The commissioner’s overreaction landed that case in federal court and further exposed Goodell as a leader drunk on his own power.
The NFL has become a magnet for nonsensical drama, and now this Carter incident represents more of the same.
Carter, remember, issued a seething rebuke of Adrian Peterson during his child-abuse case last season, campaigning for Peterson to be “taken off the field.”
Carter showed a different side of himself in that video snippet at the rookie seminar. It wasn’t a good look.
Nobody is perfect, of course. We all make mistakes. NFL players will get into trouble, just like people in all walks of life.
Carter’s own playing career serves as a powerful example. He conquered personal demons that threatened his career. He turned his second chance into a Hall of Fame career. He’s a success story in that regard.
Hopefully, he shared that message, too. Because that lesson is infinitely more valuable than the garbage he spewed to a bunch of impressionable rookies.