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Retired No More, Carter a Dolphin

Former Viking receiver, who will soon turn 37, says ex-Miami great Marino influenced him.

October 22, 2002|Sam Farmer | Times Staff Writer

Pro Bowl receiver Cris Carter came out of retirement Monday and signed with the Miami Dolphins, partly because he couldn't walk away from football, partly because fellow HBO analyst Dan Marino wouldn't stop pestering him.

"Marino is crazy," said Carter, who turns 37 next month and was working on the cable network's "Inside the NFL." "I had squashed the whole idea. Danny and I were getting ready to go to the studio, and he's down in the limo, and I tell him. He just goes ballistic. 'You have to do it. You can still play. It's a great situation for you. You want to go there.' I said, 'Dan, you're crazy. Just let it go.' "

Evidently, though, Carter was interested from the moment the Dolphins approached him to round out their receiving corps, which recently lost Oronde Gadsden to a season-ending wrist injury. Quarterback Jay Fiedler also is recovering from a broken thumb on his throwing hand.

Miami (5-2) has a one-game lead in the AFC East but is coming off a 23-10 loss to Buffalo.

The Dolphins are off this week, giving Carter an extra week to get familiar with the playbook before a Monday game at Green Bay in two weeks. The Dolphins were one of the teams he visited as a free agent last spring after being released by Minnesota, which had cast its lot with Randy Moss.

The Dolphins made room for Carter by placing Gadsden on injured reserve. Gadsden had decided to undergo wrist surgery right away unless he was offered a contract extension to his liking. That he opted for the operation means he almost certainly has played his last game as a Dolphin.

"We did a lot of research on Cris," Miami Coach Dave Wannstedt said. "Obviously, you know we had a meeting in March. We spent a lot of time talking with him, so we felt we knew what Cris is all about and what he could bring to this football team."

Carter reportedly agreed to a one-year contract with $600,000 guaranteed and $700,000 in incentives. But he insists it wasn't the money that brought him back.

"I missed being around the guys and game day," he said. "This opportunity just ran me down. There was nothing I could do. My wife said, 'You are really crazy. You've fallen out of bed and bumped your head.' As I began to think about it, I just couldn't avoid it."

A Pro Bowl player for eight consecutive seasons, Carter caught 1,093 passes and scored 129 touchdowns in 15 seasons with Philadelphia and Minnesota. He also brings some baggage. He is regarded by many in the NFL as one of the league's more self-centered players, and TV cameras caught some of his emotional explosions on the Viking sideline last season.

During a loss to Chicago, he couldn't control his anger on the field when he was open but didn't get the ball. He screamed at quarterback Daunte Culpepper, a couple of assistant coaches, even then-coach Dennis Green.

"He's an emotional player," Green said the next day. "And a great competitor. He knows that's not a good deal. He got a little carried away."

Moss said he supports Carter's return, but hinted Carter might be a target after speaking his mind on HBO.

"I love it," Moss said in Minnesota. "And I think a lot of football teams he's been making comments about will love it too."

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