Trips down Miami Dolphins memory lane can be fun and sometimes it makes you wonder if anyone else remembers, like Cris Carter.
I’m having a really good night and I wanted to conclude it by writing about something that’s been on my mind for a bit. No good reason why it’s been on my mind, but it has been. I realize that the Miami Dolphins are in the midst of a coaching search and we’re all still trying to process the reality of Tua Tagovailoa being earmarked as the QB for 2022, but does everyone remember when the playmaker, the guy who all he does is catch touchdowns, Cris Carter, played for the Miami Dolphins?
I fully understand if many of you believe that there’s no reason to dedicate an entire article to a guy that only played in five games, had only 66 yards on eight catches with one touchdown, but I’m not too concerned about that. This also seems like a good time to let you in on the fact that this article is brought to you by Troegs Nugget Nectar. Not many finer beverages than this one. So let’s talk about Cris Carter’s time with the Dolphins.
The year was 2002 and the Dolphin’s receiving core, if you can believe it it has no correlation to today’s Dolphin’s receiving core, was littered with injuries. The Dolphins needed some kind of pass-catcher to come in as they went on the stretch run of the season in the hope to make the playoffs. Cris Carter was sniffing around the Dolphins for a hot minute while he was on HBO’s Inside the NFL. Eventually, he found a wounded team, the Dolphins, and got signed by them.
I remember when it happened that it was so cool that a player the caliber of Cris Carter just magically wound up on my team. Stuff like that never happened for me. I expected Carter to come in and just catch touchdowns like Tom Jackson said he did. I have to tell you, I was a bit wrong on this assumption.
Carter joined the team in week 9, and the Dolphins were 5-2. Upon playing for the Dolphins, Carter had to check himself into the hospital with a kidney ailment that made him miss the next four weeks. He came back in week 13. After week 13, the Dolphins record was 9-5.
Miami was 9-5 with Ricky Williams in the backfield with studs like Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas, Patrick Surtain, and Sam Madison on defense. This was a team that could have done damage in the playoffs if they would ever make the playoffs.
In week 16, the Dolphins traveled to Minnesota, the team that Carter set all his records and caught all those touchdowns with. With a win, the Dolphins would get themselves into the playoffs. Now is a good time to mention that this Dolphins team should have been a dominant team and should have won more games. Ricky Williams had 1,853 yards rushing and the defense had five pro bowlers on it. There’s no good reason why this team misses the playoffs. It’s quite the anomaly but thus is the Miami Dolphins
I need to mention that in week 13 the Dolphins were on the road at Buffalo. I was at that game and actually stayed in the hotel that the Dolphins stayed in that weekend. I got a butt-load of autographs and met many players and coaches. I was 16 at this time. The highlights were I took an elevator ride with Dave Wannstedt and let me tell you he’s enormous. I’ll never forget just how big his hands were. If that guy grips you up, you’re finished. Jamie Nails was the nicest guy in the world, and Sam Madison’s dad wanted everybody to meet his son but Sam wasn’t really having it.
The funniest part was when Deon Dyer got off the bus. He had dreadlocks and was roughly Ricky Williams’s size. Everyone thought he was Ricky Williams. It was hilarious seeing Dyer tell everyone that he wasn’t Ricky Williams. Ricky took an alternative route to get into the hotel. But I digress.
During this week 16 game against the Vikings, there was a moment the Dolphins had the playoffs in their grasp but somebody named Cris Carter did the one thing he never did and that was drop a ball that was right in his hands.
Go to the 38-second mark of this video to see what I’m talking about here. The Dolphins were battling the Vikings, a Vikings team that had Randy Moss. Miami with a win would pretty much guarantee them a playoff spot. Jay Fiedler went back to pass around the seven yard-line and threw a dart across the middle to the guy with the best hands out of anyone. That man was Cris Carter. That ball went off the hands and body of Cris Carter.
I remember when this happened that time sort of stopped for me. My brain and every part of my well-being couldn’t comprehend what I just witnessed. Cris Carter, a guy who never dropped a single pass in my life according to everyone who talked football just took a ball off his face. It made no sense. It still makes no sense. Carter has caught that ball a billion times even in his sleep. Why did he have to drop this pass? Was he a double agent who was still getting paid by the Vikings? I can easily be convinced of that even today.
Miami lost the game and ended up losing the following week, the last week of the season, against the Patriots and missed the playoffs. I remember thinking that that throw to Carter was the difference-maker in the season. Sure, tons of other stuff happened but if Cris Carter makes that catch, a catch that he makes routinely, that Dolphins team makes the playoffs, and then who knows what happens. With all that talent, anything could have happened.
I guess I think about that drop against the Vikings by Carter that would have put the Dolphins in the playoffs more than most because I actually have an autograph of the PlayMaker on a hat that I got at that Dolphins Bills game. That hat, signed by a bunch of other Dolphin players including the other half of the Chamber’s Brothers not named Chris Chambers, is displayed in my basement. I see it all the time. I saw it the other day and figured I’d write about it. Have a great weekend and enjoy the playoff games.
By the Way- This is still one of the funnier videos out there. It’s the PlayMaker explaining to a bunch of rookies that they need to have a fall guy for when they break the law. It kind of makes sense to me and it’s something I imagine is a real thing that happens.