Carter is not playing much, he is not running well when he does get on the field, and he is not a happy camper. "Sometimes I wonder why they made me the first pick in the draft if they're not going to play me," he said. Good question.
Center of Attention
No running back in NFL history has caught more passes in a 20-game stretch than the Cardinals' Larry Centers, who, after catching 13 passes in a 31-28 overtime win over the Rams on Sunday, has hauled in 131 since Sept. 10, 1995. By comparison, Roger Craig's 115 catches for the 49ers, between Dec. 14, 1984, and Sept. 21, 1986, is the best 20-game performance among the five backs who caught at least 500 passes in their NFL careers. With sure hands and a punishing running style, the 5'11", 215-pound Centers is Arizona's most effective weapon, having become the first NFL back to catch more than 100 passes in a season (101 in 1995).
But the big question about Centers has little to do with his on-field success. It's this: What happened in the Pacific surf during Pro Bowl week last February?
Centers was seen talking to himself and acting strangely at practices before the game in Honolulu, and then he was replaced on the NFC team by the league, which cited an undisclosed illness. Forty-niners safety and former Cardinals teammate Tim McDonald said Centers "looked possessed." All of which led to perhaps the zaniest rumor of the season: Packers defensive end Reggie White, an ordained minister, had performed an exorcism on Centers.
Questioned last week, White said that what happened with Centers in Hawaii is private—"but I did not perform an exorcism." Centers, who is married with two small children, says he had been having marital problems and was depressed about playing for a perennial loser. He experienced a spiritual rebirth in the ceremony in the Pacific with White, Vikings wideout Cris Carter and Cardinals cornerback Aeneas Williams. "I've seen The Exorcist, and my head wasn't spinning around or anything like that," said Centers, 28. "I went through a religious conversion, and I vowed that day to make more of an effort to live life cleanly and be a better family man."
What a swell weekend it was for the Raiders. Amid rumors that he might be part of a trade for Jeff George, defensive end Anthony Smith proved that George has no monopoly on self-centeredness by going AWOL last Friday and missing Sunday's game against the Bears; cornerback Larry Brown, a $12 million free-agent acquisition in the off-season, also didn't play on Sunday because, he said, he still wasn't comfortable with Oakland's defensive system; quarterback Jeff Hostetler did play but threw four interceptions; the team was called for 10 penalties; and Jeff Jaeger, waived by the Raiders in the preseason, kicked the last of his four field goals, a 30-yarder with 11 seconds left, to give Chicago a 19-17 win. "I feel bad for them," Jaeger said, "but I'll get over it."
...The NFL has endorsed a plan to build a privately funded $300 million stadium/resort/theme park for the Cardinals in suburban Phoenix. Included in the plan is a branch of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That's news to the folks at the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. "The idea of another Pro Football Hall of Fame is ridiculous," said Hall spokesman Don Smith. "There is only one Hall of Fame, and it's here."
...A tale of two Detroit teams: The Lions were 3-2 in September. The Tigers were 4-22.