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Updated: February 2nd, 2013 5:00pm
Former Vikings receiver Cris Carter elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame

Former Vikings receiver Cris Carter elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame

by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com
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Cris Carter's wait is finally over.

The former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver and current ESPN analyst was picked for the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday after not being elected in his first five years of eligibility. Carter and other members of the Class of 2013 will be inducted on Aug. 3 in Canton, Ohio, as part of the Hall's 50th anniversary celebration.

Carter was second all-time in receptions (1,101) and receiving touchdowns (130) at the time of his retirement after the 2002 season. Those statistics made him seem like a shoe-in for the Hall but that wasn't the case.

That might have been the reason why Carter was so emotional during an appearance on the NFL Network that featured the new inductees on Saturday evening.

"It's unbelievable," said Carter, who had to collect himself a few times. "There's no type of preparation. It's the most amazing thing that's happened to me. People told me when I didn't get in the first year, and they told me the second year (I didn't get in), they told, 'It will still be awesome.' They weren't lying.

"The process is what it is. These players are unbelievable. To be in a class like this, play against these guys, my contemporaries, it's unreal. It's unreal that you're going to end your career in Canton. And for me, I'm forever humbled. If you look at my career and how it started, for me to end up right here in this chair. I'm sorry but this is the happiest day of my life."

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee met in New Orleans, where the Super Bowl will be played on Sunday. There were 17 finalists at the start of the day.

To be elected, a finalist must receive 80 percent of the vote. Rules stipulate that between four and seven members can be inducted at one time and no more than five modern-day nominees can be elected in a single year.

Joining Carter in the Class of 2013 were former Dallas and San Francisco offensive lineman Larry Allen; former Chiefs, Oilers and Lions defensive tackle Curley Culp; former Ravens offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden; longtime NFL coach Bill Parcells; former Packers and Redskins linebacker Dave Robinson; and former Buccaneers and Raiders defensive tackle Warren Sapp.

Robinson and Culp were senior committee nominees.

Wide receiver Andre Reed, running back Jerome Bettis, cornerback Aeneas Williams and defensive linemen Michael Strahan and Charles Haley also were finalists but did not earn election. Reed and Tim Brown, who did not make the cut from 15 modern-era nominees to 10, are former receivers who will continue to have to wait to get into the Hall.

"The Vikings are thrilled that Cris has been selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame," Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said in a statement issued by the team. "For over a decade Cris entertained Vikings fans with his trademark great catches and competitiveness, as he became one of the most beloved players in franchise history.

"Cris represented the Vikings organization in a first-class manner both on and off the field. We appreciate his place in Minnesota Vikings history, and we look forward to seeing him enshrined in Canton later this year."

Carter began his career with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1987 after being a fourth-round pick in the supplemental draft out of Ohio State. Carter had 19 touchdowns among his 89 catches in three years with the Eagles. That caused then-Eagles coach Buddy Ryan to utter the now famous phrase, "All he does is catch touchdowns," when talking about Carter.

The Vikings landed Carter before the 1990 season, paying only $100 to get him off of waivers. Carter, who had some issues early in his career with the Eagles, spent the next 12 seasons with the Vikings.

Carter is still fourth in NFL history in career receptions and fourth in receiving touchdowns. He is now ninth in receiving yards (13,899).

Asked if he thought he might not get elected to the Hall, Carter said: "No. I never let people do that. Those years I didn't make it, I took two or three hours to cry or mourn or think about it, then right after that I went right back to what I had to do. I've got stuff, I'm busy. It's a great experience but, no, I thought I was going to get in.

"Then this year, I said to myself, 'I'm going to get in the Hall. I believe I'm going to get in the Hall.' I just believed. It's always the right time to do the right thing. With this list and these players, and the wide receivers, eventually one of us had to get in. Eventually, one of us had to get in.

"But the history with wide receivers, I follow it pretty close, and I look at Art Monk, I look at Lynn Swann, I look at Michael Irvin. It's becoming very, very difficult to judge the skill of a wide receiver in today's game, but what else can you judge it on but the numbers?

"The numbers, they do tell a story. I'm just glad that the committee, everyone on the committee, I'm glad they recognized my career for what it was. It doesn't matter to me that whatever happened the last several years. ... I've been in this process for five years and they have not selected one bad player. Not one bad player have I seen selected to the Hall of Fame. So I'm just overjoyed by it."

Carter played in 188 games as a Viking, starting 177. He was named to the NFL's 1990s All-Decade Team, earned eight consecutive Pro Bowl berths from 1993-2000 and was selected as an All-Pro four times.

Off the field, Carter was named the recipient of the Byron "Whizzer" White Award by the NFLPA and the Walter Payton Man of the Year in 1999.

Carter credited his former coach, Dennis Green, with one-time telling him that he was a Hall of Fame player. "I said coach you don't have to say stuff like that," Carter said. "I had never even thought about the Hall of Fame until he said that. But if you look at it, every person has their own history and how you go about getting there. I'm just happy because, man, football has been good to me."

This is the second consecutive year and the sixth in the past eight years that the Vikings have had a former player elected to the Hall of Fame (Carter 2013, Chris Doleman 2012, John Randle 2010, Randall McDaniel 2009, Gary Zimmerman 2008, Warren Moon 2006).

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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