Why I Would Have Voted For Cris Carter Over Marshall Faulk

I often wonder if the voters really keep era in perspective. In the 1990s, there were only two receivers more dominant than Cris Carter: Jerry Rice and Tim Brown. While the Vikings only won three playoff games – one each in 1997, 1998 and also 1999 -, Carter’s dominating run from 1992-2000 featured eight playoff appearances in those nine years and a streak of eight consecutive 1000-yard seasons.

I would have made Faulk wait a year in place of Cris Carter. Yes, Faulk was even more statistically dizzying during his peak but his peak was only five years long and only got him one ring. As great as some of the numbers he put up as a Colt were, it’s hard to ignore that season in 1996 that stuck out like a sore thumb and these numbers:
1. Marshall Faulk helped get his team playoff berths in 1995 and 1996 but only touched the ball 13 times for 51 yards and no scores as they got knocked out in one game each time.
2. Faulk left Indianapolis after five productive but not dazzling seasons. I know he was capable of putting up huge numbers just as he would have been during the last year of his peak, 2002, when the Rams had injury issues. That said, we’re talking about his Hall of Fame case.
3. Faulk finally got to 20 total TDs in a season in 2000 and 2001, his seventh and eighth seasons, when he had 26 and 21 respectively. Maybe Faulk – with his receiving ability – was by far the best running back in football for three straight years (1999-2001). I won’t dispute that.

I don’t think this is an issue of preference. It’s not about choosing a RB/WR with sustained good stats or one like Faulk that was so good for five years, you couldn’t tell the story of the NFL without mentioning him.  Whether you look at the lopsided stats (five years that he had both 1400+ yards from scrimmage and 10+ TD; finished with a four-season streak where he didn’t hit both of those plateaus and scored 26 total TDs in that span) or not, you have to ask yourself: Was Marshall Faulk so good that he deserves to be first ballot? The answer, for me, would actually be “yes” in an average year but not in one where Cris Carter has waited this long.

The only receivers other than Rice and Tim Brown that come close to Cris Carter’s stats in his era are Irving Fryar (eight-year run) Henry Ellard (nine-year run), and they aren’t in the Hall of Fame either. And Carter actually brought his team to the playoffs and won three times.

Should he have gotten first ballot Hall of Fame honors with a pretty good career because of 3 years of amazing dominance while Cris Carter waits year after year despite being 4th all time in receiving TDs?

Between 1991 and 2000, Carter made the Pro Bowl eight times and was in the top 10 in receptions eight times. He was in the top 5 in receptions six straight years and that was with four different quarterbacks finishing as the top starter for the Vikings.

Carter doesn’t need Hall of Fame status to validate his story of overcoming substance abuse to become an icon synonymous with big catches, great routes and great hands. The Hall of Fame, however, needs to include him to validate their operation and it better not take as long as it did for another Chris this weekend: former Redskins LB Chris Hanburger got in on his 28th year of eligibility.

Note: I’m too young to remember some of the other inductees (Sharpe impressed me more than Faulk; I’m not sure about Prime), so it’s possible that – if I were on the panel – I would find that I might leave off someone else and put both Faulk and Carter in.

Follow me at http://twitter.com/Chris_M_Bach

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5 Responses to “Why I Would Have Voted For Cris Carter Over Marshall Faulk”

  1. Ann says:

    Hope the snow holds out today

  2. Chris says:

    Carter’s time will come. But snubbing Marshall Faulk in this or any other year is a tough sell. His yardage and TDs are only part of the story. Many things, many of the numbers he did put up, no back has ever done.

  3. Marcus O'Neal says:

    Marshall Faulk was an all-around running back who did all things well. He’s the best total-package running back in NFL history alongwith Walter Payton. No player combined his rushing, receiving and blocking skills. He was a speed back. He ran for power to get the tough yards when necessary. Faulk did the jobs of three running backs. He ran it. He caught it. You could line him up outside as a true wide receiver; he could beat cornerbacks downfield. And he did the dirty work of picking up blitzers.

    Then there is this:

    “In his prime, Marshall Faulk was the best running back I ever played against.” – Bears LB Brian Urlacher

    “Faulk was the best running back that I played against.– Derrick Brooks

    “He was the best running back I have seen in the NFL in a long time”- Ravens LB Ray Lewis

    Nobody says those things about Cris Carter. Carter get in the Hall of Fame, maybe even next year. But you young internet “bloggers” only care about statistics. Stats, stats, stats. Fantasy football has ruined the analysis of football players. It’s all about the numbers.

    Fortunately, the HOF voters are not obsessed with the easy statistics, they look deeper. Faulk was the toughest matchup of any running back in this generation, he deserved the HOF right away.

    Carter, for all his good stats, had flaws in his game. For that, he’s had to wait. But, he will get in and waiting for the lesser players is okay.

    • Chris Bach says:

      Great points and quotes. You say, in Faulk’s defense, that he was the toughest matchup of any running back in this generation. That speaks to his ability in the passing game and in the open field. By designating “this” generation, are you insinuating that he was any harder to take down than in the open field than Ladainian Tomlinson in his prime or Adrian Peterson?

      I would say some statistics and – what you wrote – matchups pretty much go hand in hand.

      While yards is a statistic that could insinuate that teams were allowing you to do stuff across the field, but that it ultimately didn’t matter much (Art Monk might come to mind as his role was smaller on his team)…the statistics of touchdowns for a wide receiver can indicate that no linebacker, corner, or safety could handle you in the red zone. Only one player in the Hall of Fame has more receiving touchdowns than Cris Carter and that’s Jerry Rice.

      Another statistic, playoff appearances, has to count for something. Yes, playoff wins and rings are going to push you in the Hall faster than appearances but Dan Marino – who influenced his team’s performance probably more than anyone else on the Dolphins – wasn’t penalized when his TEAM came up short. I think you have to give Cris Carter a little bit of credit for generally being the best offensive player on his team and leading them to so many postseason appearances.

      Finally, you mention “flaws” in Carter’s game, but don’t mention any specifically.

      • Marcus O'Neal says:

        Faulk is a more complete back, bar far, than Adrian Peterson. Peterson does not play on 3rd down. I think Peterson is a better runner, but NOT BY MUCH. Faulk was excellent on shirt yardage and goaline and was also a threat to go all the way. Faulk and Peterson were both legit 4.3 forty-yard dash guys. But, as of now, I would give a slight edge to Peterson. But, as I said, Peterson cannot catch, and does not block.

        LaDainian Tomlinson is close to Faulk, but he was not as good as Faulk in terms of speed and being able to flank out and play wide receiver. This is complete games were are talking about . . . not just one aspect. LT does run, catch, and block. He’s a Hall of Famer when he’s out of the game for 5 years.

        But Faulk was better, smarter. the smartest player out there.

        “I played the game a long time, and Marshall did something I’ve never seen another running back do,” Michael Strahan said. “He was a coach out there. The ‘Greatest Show’ would break the huddle, and all of their players would be lining up. Faulk would be standing in the backfield, directing traffic. He’s making adjustments in the pass protection, he’s getting the players lined up properly, he’s telling Kurt (Warner) what to look out for, he’s calling out changes to the offensive line. I’ve never seen a running back do that – take over the offense and get everything in place. I’d holler, ‘Hey, No. 28, if you want to be a coach, take the uniform off and go put on some slacks and a golf shirt and go stand on the sideline and coach.’ Marshall was just an amazing player in every way.”

        As far as statistics . . . they play a part, no doubt, but I am talking about skills, talents, and the intangibles that statistics do not show. Young guys these days are driven by stats and misuse them too much

        Finally, you mention “flaws” in Carter’s game, but don’t mention any specifically.

        Carter was not a deep threat. He had great hands, was as godo as there was at toe-tap catches on the sidelines and was great in the end zone and on short pattersn. He was not like a Lance Alworth, Jerry Rice, or otehr greats who were great short, intermediate, and deep. Carter’s yards per catch would be the lowest of any WR in the Hall of Fame. It’s not much better than Gale Sayer’s yards per catch.

        So, what my point was Cris Carter will get in, maybe as soon as next year, but he will get in. He has some credentials. Touchdown catches stand out. His playoff appearances . . .well, okay, but he didn’t win the big one. So, if you throw that out there, you have to live by the sword and die by the sword. What you can say about Monk is he has 3 rings, Carter, zero, and zero Super Bowl appearances. Playoffs and Super Bowls are team things, the HOF is an individual thing. So, if you want Carter to get credit for being the best offensive player on playoffs teams, then he gets some blame for never getting the 1998 or 2000 Vikings to Super Bowl and winning it.

        You began this by saying you’d vote for Carter over Faulk. And you used stats to make hte case.

        You should use the opinion of scouts, players, intangibles, Super Bowls and statistics. All of those things.

        With Faulk, you have the compelte package.

        With Carter you ahve good things: 130 TDs, and average things, not a deep threat, lowest yards per catch in the known universe, and No Super Bowls.