Cris Carter Enshrinement speech

Pro Football Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium
August 3, 2013

Cris Carter:
O-H!  O-H!  Welcome to the home of professional football, Canton, Ohio.  And I happen to be one of the few people who have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame who were born and raised in the State of Ohio.  First of all, I must thank the Selection Committee.  It's an unbelievable process, a tedious task.  I know the way they go about their job to try to get it right.  I appreciate the process that you have to go to be a Hall of Famer.  I'm so glad, regardless that whatever you've done, it's not a slam dunk.
We have the greatest Hall of all the Halls, and to be able to join these men on this stage in football heaven is the greatest day of my life.  Now, I never won any championships, but I played for a lot of good teams.  And the first team I'd like to recognize, and I'd like them to stand would be my family members who are seated to my left.  Please stand.  I appreciate everything you've done for me.
I was very, very fortunate.  My mom raised seven kids by herself, and I did look up to you guys as football players.  I can't lie.  But my hero growing up was a guy by the name of Butch Carter.  He was the best basketball player in the State of Ohio.  He was also my father figure.  He was my role model as an athlete.  He did everything the way you're supposed to do it, conducted himself, dressed in the manner, did well in school, worked extra jobs, helped his mom, and Butch Carter today as your baby brother goes into the Hall, you need to know you're my hero.
To my lovely sisters who have supported me in so many ways, I appreciate the sacrifices you guys have made.  I appreciate every meal you cooked for me.  I appreciate every time you did my football pants.  I appreciate every time you laced up my basketball sneakers, and I heard your voice every time in the crowd saying go, Cris, go.  Ever since I was a little boy, you ladies have always taught me how to be a gentleman, how to handle a lady.  And for what you did in my life, I'm forever indebted to you.  Hall of Famers, my sisters, I love you.
I'm very, very fortunate that my best friend happens to be my brother.  A guy that I've been in business with, a guy that I've idolized and he used to let me hang out with him and his buddies, John Carter, as they enshrine me today, you're going into the Hall of Fame.
I've always been on good teams.  My mom moved us from Troy when I was 7 years old, and I moved to a place called Middletown, because there were supposed to be opportunities there.  Yes, I recognize Middletown, that's where I'm from.  242 miles from George Halas Drive to the housing project that I grew up in, People's Place.  All the support, what a great community to grow up in as a youngster.  But there are four individuals that I met when I was young, and they became my best friends.  Toogy, Jimmy, Al, Dune we call him, and Dwight.  Stand up.  I played football with these dudes since I was 8 years old, and I still talk to them every week.  We've been through some hard times together, we have struggled through each other's lives, but we have stuck together.
We made a commitment when we were younger, and y'all should know this, man.  As y'all's boy goes into the Hall of Fame, you go into the Hall tonight.
Ohio State, first of all, to all the Buckeye fans, from the bottom of my heart, I sincerely apologize for me signing with a sports agent and losing my eligibility my senior year.  That is the only regret I have in my athletic career is that I couldn't play for the Buckeyes as a senior.  Buckeye fans, Cris Carter says, I'm sorry.  To all my Buckeye teammates, especially those who took care of me, Keith Byars, Pepper Johnson, Jim Lachey, Kurt Loudermilk, William White, Greg Rogan, Dwight Smith, guys that looked after me.
I've always had good teams that I've played on.  All you Buckeyes, all my teammates, all you guys in attendance, I greatly appreciate it.
My teammates from Philadelphia where I was drafted, the Philadelphia Eagles organization, they took a chance on me.  Buddy Ryan drafted me, and he tried to grow me up in the league.  What Buddy Ryan did was the best thing that ever happened for me when he cut me and told me I couldn't play for his football team.  But he told me a story.  He told me the night before he went on and talked to his wife, and he asked his wife what he should do.  And his wife told him, don't cut Cris Carter.  He's going to do something special with his life.  So Buddy Ryan, and your lovely wife, I thank you.  You're going into the hall with me tonight.
Minnesota Vikings fans there was never a time in Minnesota I felt uncomfortable.  Based on the teammates I played with, six guys in the Hall of Fame, five of us played in Minnesota, Randall McDaniel, unbelievable left guard, one of the best human beings you could ever meet.  Big Zimm, left tackle, played with him a few years, never practiced with him in training camp, never wanted to practice, Big Zimm, Hall of Famer.  Little Muscle, Johnny Randle, the hardest working man I've ever been around.  Warren Moon, who I played only two years with, I only caught 244 passes and 24 touchdowns in two years from Warren Moon.
I've always had good teams around me, and guys you set a standard, and I appreciate that standard you set going to work.  You guys showed me what it meant to be a pro, and you guys helped me in the transition.  You knew I had tremendous issues, but you never held that against me, and I appreciate it that now I stand here with you.  I'm forever indebted to you.
To the current team I'm on with ESPN, Shefty, Mort, Key, Tommy, Coach, and Boom, thank you for all your support through the last five years of just missing on getting into the hall.  Thank you for saying the right things, because it's tough when you don't make it.  I appreciate my family at ESPN, and I appreciate the support you've given me through the years.
In talking to all the Hall of Famers over the last several days, it's been an unbelievable experience for me.  The one thing that I see in common is every one of these guys talks about four or five people they've met on the way to football heaven.
Let me introduce you to a few people I've met on my way to football heaven, because that's where I am right now.  My mama, Joyce, stand up, please.  Now you should know that woman right there dropped out of high school at 17, had seven kids, went back and finished her high school diploma when she was about 40, and when she was 50, she ended up with her masters.
Mama, I got to tell you, I didn't have to wait to get a call from the hall to tell me I was a Hall of Famer.  You've been telling me since I was little.  You told me everything that's ever happened in my life has happened.  But, mom, I've got to tell you.  I have to apologize.  I'm so sorry for the bumpy flight and the bumpy ride, but I got to tell you, mama, it's a smooth landing.  Sit down, mama.  You in the Hall of Fame.  Sit down.
The second person I met that was critical on my way to football heaven was my high school football coach, Bill Conley.  Bill Conley, where are you?  Stand up and be recognized.  This guy right here came into my life when I was 17 years old.  I was one of the best basketball players in the state of Ohio.  I had a brother in the NBA, and I was only playing football to stay in shape.  He told me, looked me straight in the eye and said, Son, you have a better chance to be Lynn Swann than you do Isiah Thomas.
And Coach Conley, I appreciate the football you taught me.  I appreciate you taught me how to play the game.  I appreciate how you taught me how to prepare for the game.  Coach Conley, I hate to say it, but I wake up every day coaching kids.  I idolize you, coach.  I try to coach my high school kids just like my high school coach.  Bill Conley, everybody.
Third person I encountered, I saw her going across the campus of Ohio State.  I told my roommate, Yo, man, I'm going to marry that girl.  Been married to her for 23 years.
Through all the things we've been through.  I appreciate your sacrifice.  I remember early in my career you told me, Cris, I had a dream and I was going to be successful, but if you want to pursue pro football, I'm willing to put my dream on the back burner, because I believe in you.  Melanie, baby, you in the hall.
The Minnesota Vikings, we have one of the best employee assistance programs, cutting edge as far as substance abuse, people struggling with it and our ownership at the time was a group of people, but one of the owners was named Wheelock Whitney.  When the Vikings acquired me from Philadelphia, like most pro teams, they don't know the intel on the player until they get the paperwork, but they had already had my contract by then.  But Wheelock Whitney hooked me up with a good friend of his, whose name is Betty Trilegi, and she happens to be one of the best friends a person could ever have.  The reason why, she didn't teach me how to catch or run routes, but she taught me how I could live a life and have power over my life.  And my demons didn't have to always haunt me.
She asked me on September 19, she said, Cris, can you just not have a drink for one week?  And since September 19, 1990, because of Betty Trilegi, and Wheelock Whitney, I've been able to keep that program together.  And but for them, I would not be going into the hall, and I greatly appreciate and I honor them tonight.
And the fifth person I met was the minister of defense, and his name was Reggie White.  I grew up in a single parent home.  Reggie White, when I was 22, was the first man to tell me he loved me.  And he said, Cris, through God all things are possible.
Now there might be a lot of people you might question where they're at, but I know, Big Dog.  I know you looking down, and I know you're happy with me.  I appreciate you, Reggie.  I love you.
Four things you should know before you leave the Hall of Fame about Cris Carter, I won't apologize.  I love God with all my heart.  I love my family, and I love my friends who stuck with me.  And just like these guys, I love football.  I love this game.  This game gave me identity.  It gave me a sense of purpose.  And for an African American man, it's a great opportunity in America to be able to play football.
The number four thing that you should know about Cris Carter, before you leave here is, Buckeye born and bred, now HOF er, even after I'm dead.  Thank you.
Video Presenter: Duron Carter presents his father, Cris