by Ryan Isley
If the third time is supposed to be a charm, what is the sixth time? Well, Cris Carter can only hope that the sixth time is better than the first five when the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2013 is announced this Saturday. Carter has been a finalist every year since 2008 but has somehow yet to hear his name called when the class is announced.
There are a lot of candidates on this year’s ballot that will get plenty of support from the voters – Larry Allen, Jerome Bettis, Ed Debartolo, Jr., Art Modell, Bill Parcells, Warren Sapp and Michael Strahan to name a few – but it is time that the voters finally give Carter his due and put him in Canton.
Part of the problem when it comes to Carter’s Hall of Fame credentials is that other wide receivers from his era – notably Tim Brown and Andre Reed – have garnered some of the support and votes that would have normally gone to Carter. No offense to either Brown or Reed, but Carter needs to be enshrined before either of those two.
First, let’s eliminate Reed.
Carter and Brown each rank ahead of Reed in career receptions, career receiving yards, career receiving touchdowns, seasons with 100+ receptions, seasons with 1,000+ receiving yards, receptions per game, receiving yards per game and Pro Bowl selections. That pretty much should lock Reed out of the Hall of Fame discussion until Carter and Reed have their busts in place.
This is where the discussion of Cris Carter vs. Tim Brown begins.
Brown leads Carter in games played (255 to 234) and career receiving yards (14,934 to 13,899) and had nine straight seasons of 1,000+ yards receiving from 1993-2001, besting Carter’s streak of eight consecutive seasons from 1993-2000. Both players made the Pro Bowl in each season during those streaks – the only seasons they made the Pro Bowl in their careers. Therefore, Brown leads Carter by one in Pro Bowl appearances. Brown also holds the advantage in yards per catch (13.7 to 12.6).
Those are the only categories in which Brown leads Carter. In every other important stat, Carter gets the better of the 1987 Heisman Trophy winner.
Carter is fourth all-time in receptions with 1,101 while Brown is fifth with 1,094 catches. The only players ahead of them are Jerry Rice – a first ballot Hall of Famer who was named as the best player in NFL history by the NFL Network in 2010, Tony Gonzalez and Marvin Harrison – both of whom are not Hall of Fame eligible as of yet.
Carter had two seasons of 100+ receptions – both of which were seasons of 122 catches in 1994 and 1995 – while Brown had just one season of 100+ when he caught 104 passes in 1997. Carter also leads Brown in seasons with 90+ receptions with five to Brown’s four.
While Brown leads Carter in games played and career receiving yards, Carter has the advantage in receiving yards per game (59.4 to 58.6) and also leads in receptions per game (4.7 to 4.3).
Where Carter enjoys probably his biggest edge over Brown is when it comes to finding the endzone. Carter scored 130 receiving touchdowns, which is good enough fourth all-time – just like in career receptions. Brown scored his fair share of touchdowns but is tied for seventh all-time with 100 career touchdown catches. The only players with more receiving touchdowns are Rice (197), Randy Moss (157) and Terrell Owens (153). Like Gonzalez and Harrison, Moss and Owens are not yet Hall of Fame eligible.
Brown had just two seasons in which he caught at least 10 touchdown passes, with 10 in 1995 and 11 in 2000. Carter on the other hand, had six such seasons. After making 11 touchdown catches in 1989, Carter went on a streak of five straight seasons with 10+ touchdown catches from 1995-1999, highlighted by hauling in 17 scoring passes in 1995. He had 10 in 1996, 13 in 1997, 12 in 1998 and then 13 again in 1999.
While Brown’s resume is certanily impressive, it is hard to argue that Carter was the best wide receiver in the 1990s not named Jerry Rice.
Andre Reed might have an argument that he belongs in the Hall of Fame and Tim Brown definitely can state a case for a spot in Canton. But Cris Carter deserves to receive that call first. Let’s make it happen in 2013.
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