It took longer than Ohio State – and Minnesota Viking – fans would have liked, but former Buckeye Cris Carter now has a bust at the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
It was an emotional weekend for Carter as he did the impossible, bringing Bill Parcells to tears with a specially inscribed tie clip Friday, before a heartfelt introduction from his son, Duron, Saturday night.
Carter, who retired in 2002 trailing only the great Jerry Rice in career receptions (1,101) and touchdowns (130) by a receiver, began his induction speech with a hearty "O-H!" before going onto apologize to Ohio State fans for signing with a sports agent. "That is the only regret in my athletic career is that I couldn't play for the Buckeyes as a senior. Buckeye fans, Cris Carter says, I'm sorry."
Carter went on to thank his brothers, his wife and family, the Vikings, former high school coach – and former Ohio State coach – Bill Conley, among others.
On the great state of Ohio:
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.
Growing up in Middletown:
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.
Carter's apology to Ohio State fans:
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.
What Bill Conley meant to him:
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.
Seeing his wife for the first time at Ohio State:
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.