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HOF: Cris Carter's 'letter' of thanks

8/4/2013


Cris Carter's enshrinement speech Saturday night at the Pro Football Hall of Fame was 100 percent Cris Carter -- complete with tears, near-gospel tones and frank admissions about his life's shortcomings. He had earlier described it as a "letter" intended to recognize the "people when I was at my darkest point and they still believed in me," and in a touching framework to his speech, Carter welcomed all of them to the Hall alongside him.

(Here is a full transcript from the Pro Football Hall of Fame's website.)

As a result, Carter didn't spend much time talking about his time with the Minnesota Vikings or really any of his on-field exploits. Instead, he reserved some of his most reverential words for Minnesota businessman Wheelock Whitney, who was a part-owner of the Vikings when the team claimed Carter on waivers in September 1990.

Whitney connected Carter with Betty Trilliegi, a substance-abuse counselor, and took great interest in Carter's life. Here's that segment of Carter's speech:

The Minnesota Vikings, we have one of the best employee assistance programs, cutting edge as far as substance abuse, people struggling with it. And our ownership at the time was a group of people, but one of the owners was named Wheelock Whitney.

When the Vikings acquired me from Philadelphia, like most pro teams, they don't know the intel on the player until they get the paperwork, but they had already had my contract by then. But Wheelock Whitney hooked me up with a good friend of his, whose name is Betty Triliegi, and she happens to be one of the best friends a person could ever have. The reason why, she didn't teach me how to catch or run routes, but she taught me how I could live a life and have power over my life. And my demons didn't have to always haunt me.

She asked me on Sept. 19. She said, 'Cris, can you just not have a drink for one week?' And since Sept. 19, 1990, because of Betty Triliegi, and Wheelock Whitney, I've been able to keep that program together. And but for them, I would not be going into the Hall, and I greatly appreciate and I honor them tonight.

I'm sure some of you will wonder why Carter didn't mention most of the quarterbacks he played with, or any of his non-Hall of Fame Vikings teammates or even coach Dennis Green. I guess that's a question for Carter. But to me, that didn't seem what the speech was about. The speech was about the people who helped him at his darkest moments, and by the time Green was hired and those quarterbacks joined the team, Carter was already on the upswing.

Regardless, Carter provided a predictably rousing performance to end the 2013 ceremony.

Here is a video of the full speech.