End of the line
Vikings WR Carter says 2001 will be final season
MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (AP) -- Cris Carter, one of only two players in NFL history with more than 1,000 receptions, plans to retire after this season, The Middletown Journal reported Thursday.
The Minnesota Vikings wide receiver, No. 2 behind Jerry Rice in receptions and touchdown catches, made the announcement Wednesday night during a banquet speech in Middletown, where he was a high school star.
"Just where everything began, right here in Middletown, I think that, at this point, I'm going to make the announcement that this will be my last year of playing," Carter said, according to the newspaper.
Carter, 35, had previously said he would return for at least one more season, but he hadn't announced when he would retire.
His agent, Mitchell Frankel, was traveling Thursday and not immediately available for comment. Vikings owner Red McCombs and team spokesman Bob Hagan did not immediately return phone calls from The Associated Press.
When Carter told the banquet crowd of several hundred people that the 2001 season would be his last, there was a moment of stunned silence.
"It's not because I can't play anymore," he said. "It's not because I don't love it anymore. It's because my assignment in the NFL is complete as a player. My dream is realized, it's come true. I don't want to play one extra day and deny another man from wearing the No. 80 jersey and keep him from enjoying the kind of opportunities that I've had."
Carter caught his 1,000th pass last season and finished with 1,020; Rice has 1,281. Carter also played in his eighth consecutive Pro Bowl. He is the Vikings' career leader in touchdowns (104) and yards receiving (11,512).
He has talked about a broadcasting career after football, and will miss the Vikings' minicamp this weekend to work as an analyst Sunday on DirectTV's broadcast of an NFL Europe game.
He spoke at the Pigskin-Roundball Spectacular banquet, which honors the accomplishments of Middletown and Ohio athletes and coaches. He and his brother, Butch, a former head coach of the Toronto Raptors, were the main attraction.
Carter recalled going 60 yards for a touchdown the first time he touched the ball in a 1973 game in Middletown.
"It's hard to believe that in the year 2001 I'd still be running touchdowns," he said. "But for those of you who still haven't seen me play, please try to check me out this year."