Carter salutes Buddy Ryan in HOF speech

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Carter salutes Buddy Ryan in HOF speech
August 4, 2013, 10:15 am
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Cris Carter, who spent three seasons with the Eagles, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday evening. (USA Today Images)

Some 24 years after he played his final snap as a Philadelphia Eagle, Cris Carter stood at a podium in Canton, Ohio, Saturday evening and thanked Buddy Ryan, Reggie White and Keith Byars for their part in his rise from a young, troubled wide receiver battling addiction issues to a Hall of Fame wide receiver.

Carter spent the 1987 through 1989 seasons with the Eagles before achieving greatness with the Vikings.

For years he has credited his Eagles coach, Buddy Ryan, for saving his life. Ryan told Carter after his first positive drug test that if he tested positive again he would cut him. Carter did, and Ryan did. But he also directed him to get help for his addiction issues, and once Carter cleaned up his life he became one of the greatest receivers in NFL history.

“The Philadelphia Eagles’ organization, they took a chance on me,” Carter told the crowd at Fawcett Stadium during the Hall’s 50th enshrinement ceremony.

“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 [Joanie], 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.”

Carter also saluted Hall of Famer Reggie White, his teammate for three seasons in Philly.

Carter and White are the only players who’ve spent more than one season with the Eagles since 1970 to become Hall of Famers.

“I grew up in a single-parent home,” Carter said. “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.’”

Carter caught 89 passes for 1,450 yards and 19 touchdowns with the Eagles but finished his career with 1,101 catches and 130 touchdowns, both still fourth-most in NFL history. His 13,899 yards are ninth-most in history. He was a seven-time Pro Bowl pick in his sixth year as a Hall of Fame finalist.

The Eagles drafted Carter in the fourth round of the 1987 supplemental draft after he lost his NCAA eligibility when it was discovered he had already signed with agents Norby Walters and Lloyd Bloom. Both agents were eventually convicted on federal felony fraud and racketeering charges in a case involving payments to college football players -- including Carter and Temple’s Paul Palmer -- while they still had eligibility remaining.

One of Carter’s teammates and close friends at Ohio State, Keith Byars, became his teammate in Philly.

“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,” Carter said.

“That is the only regret I have in my athletic career is that I couldn't play for the Buckeyes as a senior. [Thank you] 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.”

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