Former Ohio State All-American receiver Cris Carter has been through a lot in his life. From growing up without a father to suspension and early departure from Ohio State, to his struggles off the field early on in his career in the NFL, to say that his story is one of redemption would be an understatement.
There are plenty of Buckeye fans that know the story of Carter very well, but there are those that are too young to remember the NFL Hall of Famer from when he wore the scarlet and gray.
The “NFL Icons” Cris Carter Episode
But that’s OK. Thanks to the “NFL Icons” docuseries on EPIX, there’s plenty to get up to speed on. That’s because one of the eight episodes details the career and life of Carter. And boy is it worth a watch. It is done in partnership with NFL Films with Rich Eisen narrating, and it is both entertaining — and revealing — in so many ways with some never before seen footage and behind-the-scenes moments we’ve all come to expect from NFL Films.
The Carter episode is set to air on October 22, and we got a sneak peek of it here at Buckeyes Wire. And although Carter may be known by many more because of his Hall of Fame career in the NFL with the Eagles and Vikings, the episode goes into pretty good depth on his time in Columbus.
The Troubles at Ohio State
One of the rawest and most emotional moments deals with Carter’s unexpected early exit from Ohio State. For those of you that don’t know the story well, the Buckeyes were set up for what was expected to be a run at a national title in 1987, but it was all derailed. First, by the suspension of Carter because of marijuana use early in the season, then he was ruled ineligible after signing with an agent.
“When I got recruited to Ohio State, we had the number-one recruiting class, nineteen eighty-four. And we really thought we were gonna win a national championship,” Carter says in the documentary “I got tired of being broke. I got tired of not being able to call my mom. I got tired of just not- after the game, not being able to go get a slice of pizza.
“I really thought they were a great organization. I thought they were going to do big things. I mean, I’m not gonna sit here and act like I was naive. I know that I can’t take money from an agent, um, as long as I have eligibility. I didn’t think about my eligibility when I signed. I was thinking about my long-term career. My life, um, was totally turned upside down. Um, the relationships I had at Ohio State were ruined. And, um, it wasn’t like there was a lot of people that wanted Cris Carter associated with what they were doing at the time.”
Instead of a season of wonder under Earle Bruce, Ohio State limped to a 6-4-1 record with Bruce being fired in November.
“We were building something there together. And when I left, and not only did it alter the history of Ohio State, but it altered his career,” continues Carter. “He got fired. And I could have — I would have changed that.
“They needed my voice. And Earl lost control of the locker room. And that wouldn’t have happened. And, for me, and the decision that I made that I thought long-term was going to be best for my career it affected his career in a negative way, and I was sorry for that.”
Carter struggled with addiction with the Eagles and was let go by then-head coach Buddy Ryan, but with such great body control, hands, and a desire to be the best, Carter would go on to find redemption and one of the best careers we’ve ever seen a receiver have in the league while with the Minnesota Vikings.
The Regret and Reflection
Despite it all though, Carter still feels bad about what he did to Ohio State and Earle Bruce. In fact, to hear him tell it, in a life that had many struggles he had to overcome, it was the one moment in his career and time on this Earth he regrets the most.
Carter went back to speak at his high school, Middletown, in 2013, and his old college coach was in attendance. He took the time to let everyone know, Bruce included, how he was sorry for how things ended in Columbus.
“I got to tell you, Coach Bruce, I love you to death. And I think that you should know this,” an emotional Carter remarked. “When I let you down before my senior year and was not able to play football for the Buckeyes, that was the worst thing that ever happened to me. And I’ve never had a chance to tell you this, Coach. From the bottom of my heart, I’m sorry. I wish I could go over and do it again. And if I could, I would have played my senior year for the Buckeyes. My fate would have been different. And I believe that your fate would have been different. And for that, I am sorry. And thank you for your support, Coach.”
Look, there are plenty of stories where star players get in trouble and never recover. There are plenty of things chronicled about an athlete that could never round the corner of addiction or other off-the-field troubles resulting in a waste of talent and what could have been. A story like Carter’s probably isn’t told enough, and I don’t know that he’s ever gotten enough credit for how he turned things around despite it all to become one of the greatest to ever catch passes in the history of the NFL.
And this is just a small slice of the Cris Carter episode that was very well done and highly entertaining with nuggets of information that many just never knew. If you are an OSU fan or a fan of Carter’s it is well worth an hour or so to check out the episode.
And if you are a football fan in general, the NFL Icons series is also must-watch television. Aside from the Carter episode, the second season also goes in-depth with episodes about John Madden, Walter Payton, Jimmy Johnson, Steve Young, Ray Lewis, Troy Aikman, and Tony Dungy.
But first things first, find a way to get EPIX and watch the Carter episode on Saturday, October 22. You won’t be sorry.
ListFace of the Position: Wide Receiver
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By: Phil Harrison
Title: Hall of Famer Cris Carter details regret about exit from Ohio State, letting Earle Bruce down, in new EPIX documentary
Sourced From: buckeyeswire.usatoday.com/2022/10/14/cris-carter-and-his-regrets-about-exit-from-ohio-state-impact-on-earle-bruce-buckeyes-nfl-icons/
Published Date: Fri, 14 Oct 2022 23:25:18 +0000