In a video that’s recently [and quickly] making the rounds on social media, Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter is seen leading a session for NFL rookies. In case you had any doubt about his status, Carter is—of course—wearing the yellow jacket.
At this specific point, Carter brings up the concept of NFL athletes designating a “fall guy.” Coincidentally, Carter calls up Teddy Bridgewater to use as an example in his hypothetical scene. Carter says the following:[pull_quote_center]If ya’ll have a crew, you have to have a ‘fall guy’ in the crew. […] I let my homeboys know. Ya’ll want to keep rolling like this, then I need to know who’s gonna be the ‘fall guy’—who’s going to be driving—because you’re not all gonna be doing the right stuff, all right? So I have to teach you how to get around all this stuff, too. If you’re going to have a crew, one of those fools has to know he’s going to jail. We’ll get him out. [/pull_quote_center]
Former defensive tackle Warren Sapp laughs at Carter after the first sentence, and Carter’s initial expression/stance suggests he may be joking. However, he does take a more serious tone as he continues, and it’s generally hard to interpret his undertone.
It’s clear that even Bridgewater feels uncomfortable and is unsure how to respond.
Jon Krawczynski posted the following on Twitter shortly after the video surfaced:
A little bit hard to tell if Cris Carter has his tongue in his cheek here or not. If he’s genuine, not a good look. https://t.co/hApTUigwep
— Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) August 23, 2015
I echo these sentiments exactly. While I hope Carter isn’t speaking entirely seriously, it boils down to this: it’s inappropriate regardless.
Carter is speaking to a group of young athletes from a variety of backgrounds. The context of his speech addresses realistic scenarios and acknowledges the temptations and situations that could certainly accompany such a high-profile lifestyle. Whether he’s joking or being serious in prescribing preparation for these scenarios, it’s a terrible reflection on someone who’s been placed at that podium as a presumed mentor.
The NFL has received plenty of flack over the years, and especially recently, for the way it handles various situations. Whether that be player discipline, public perception or the training and mentoring of players entering the league, the NFL continues to get caught with its hand in the cookie jar, per se.
In an organization bearing an already-tainted reputation, Carter makes an overwhelmingly poor choice in how he addresses Bridgewater and his peers. If he’s speaking tongue-in-cheek, it’s embarrassing and tasteless. If he’s seriously intending to “impart wisdom”… it’s tragic.
We can only hope that there was more to this subject that’s not included in the video.