When former Eagles, Vikings and Dolphins receiver Cris Carter talks about overcoming difficulties and playing in the NFL for a long time, it would behoove young players to listen. Carter, who ranks third in NFL history with 1,101 regular-season catches, may have had the best hands of all time, was unquestionably the best sideline receiver in league annals, and will surely go into the Hall of Fame when the voters get a clue, came very close to missing his chance at greatness.
Selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth round of the 1987 supplemental draft, Carter was eventually cut by Buddy Ryan because he couldn't handle his off-field activities. But he cleaned himself up and went on to have one of the greatest careers among the last generation of NFL players.
Now, Carter gives his life lessons to the next generation every year at the Rookie Symposium. It's a great chance for players coming into the league to learn how important it is to keep their heads on straight, and what awaits them either way. This year's talk was particularly video-worthy:
Carter talked about the need to come into camp looking to "take a dude's job", and that being the first step to a long career. He also discussed the need to keep one's family (including one's momma!) in check once the contract is signed, the need to watch that money (because "ain't nobody taking double teams [for you]!"), and how important it is to get the "silly stuff" out of their heads before they hit the field. Oh, and he also mentioned that "Brett Favre is coming back," which will give Rich Eisen something to talk about for the next month. Whoopee.
Basically, it was a great and emotional speech, made all the more real by Carter's own example. If any of the 2010 rookie class gets into trouble, they can't say they didn't get the talk first. Because Cris Carter, as he once did so well on the field, laid it down for all to see.