The NFL annually holds a Rookie Symposium, a chance for the drafted rookies from all 32 NFL teams to come together to learn about life in the NFL. Included in the process, which is split into two events, one for the AFC and one for the NFC, is a series of discussions with former NFL stars.
The league looks to get former stars who had problems early in their careers, allowing them the chance to outline their pitfalls and the lessons they learned that can help to rookies from making the same mistakes.
Enter Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter. Carter, who had an addiction problem early in his career which led to the Philadelphia Eagles cutting him before he was able to turn his career around with the Minnesota Vikings. He finished his career wearing aqua and orange with the Miami Dolphins. Carter only appeared in five games with Miami in 2002, catching eight passes for 66 yards and a touchdown.
Carter, who was on stage with Warren Sapp at the 2014 Rookie Symposium, spoke to the NFC rookies in a video that was posted on the NFL's website until Sunday, when the league removed it. No one really noticed Carter's comments in the video until former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland mentioned in an interview with ESPN recently that someone - he did not identify the speaker - told rookies in 2014 to make sure they always have a "fall guy."
People immediately began searching for who could have made the comments. Carter's video was soon found - hiding in plain sight on NFL.com.
"Y'all not gonna all do the right stuff, Carter told the rookies. "I gotta teach y'all how to get around all this stuff [the law] too. If you gonna have a crew, one of them fools got to know he going to jail....I know none y'all gonna never drink late. I know none y'all never gonna use no drugs and everything....But still get you a fall guy...can't nothing happen to you. Your name can't be in lights under no circumstances."
Here is a Hall of Fame player, representing how to do things right in the NFL, talking to rookies about how to avoid making the same mistakes he made, telling them to make sure they have a "fall guy" to go to jail for them when they try to get around the law. The addition of Sapp, who, nine months after the symposium, was charged with solicitation of prostitution at the Super Bowl, only makes the video even better.
Carter, the NFL, and ESPN, for whom Carter now works, all issued statements after everyone figured out it was the wide receiver telling rookies how to make sure their buddy is the one getting in trouble.
Seeing that video has made me realize how wrong I was. I was brought there to educate young people and instead I gave them very...— Cris Carter (@criscarter80) August 24, 2015
bad advice. Every person should take responsibility for his own actions. I’m sorry and I truly regret what I said that day."— Cris Carter (@criscarter80) August 24, 2015
This was an unfortunate and inappropriate comment made by Cris Carter during the 2014 NFC rookie symposium. The comment was not representative of the message of the symposium or any other league program. The league’s player engagement staff immediately expressed concern about the comment to Cris. The comment was not repeated in the 2014 AFC session or this year’s symposium.
"We completely disagree with Cris's remarks and we have made that extremely clear to him. Those views were entirely his own and do not reflect our company's point of view in any way."
The NFL took down the video, but you can still see it on DeadSpin.