(every Friday during the NFL season, OOB will run a nostalgic feature about the Lions’ upcoming opponents)
My disdain for the Minnesota Vikings is well-documented, if you’ve read this blog for any length of time. Don’t believe me? Just click on the little search box in the upper lefthand corner and type in “Minnesota Vikings” and see what turns up here.
But few things rankled me more about the Vikings than seeing #81 running around the football field, catching passes and returning punts and wreaking general havoc.
Anthony Carter, AC from Michigan. The original #1 in Maize and Blue — the one who started the tradition of the top-flight receiver wearing jersey no. 1 in Ann Arbor.
How Carter became a Viking is typical, when it comes to the Vikes sticking it to the Lions.
Carter, as you know, terrorized the Big Ten from 1979-82 as a Wolverine. Then he made some more football hay locally when he starred for the USFL’s Michigan Panthers in 1983-84. The USFL had a territorial draft, and so it was a simple matter for AC to stay in the state and play for the Panthers.
Then the USFL went out of business.
The Miami Dolphins had Carter’s rights, having drafted him in 1983. Why the Lions didn’t do so is a mystery unto itself (Carter wasn’t drafted until the 12th round, which means the Lions passed on him at least 11 times; even if they figured he was going to the USFL, why not take a flyer on him anyway?). But by 1985, when the USFL was bankrupt, the Dolphins already had Mark Duper and Mark Clayton for Dan Marino, so they traded Carter to … the Minnesota Vikings!
Sickening, I know.
I don’t have the heart to post a photo of Carter in a Vikings uniform
So not only did the Lions miss out on Carter in his prime, they got to see him twice a season, playing for the intra-divisional Vikings, and usually he was helping to beat Detroit. He was so close, yet so far.
Then, almost as a cruel joke, Carter ended up with the Lions, finally — but as a 34-year-old with his best days behind him. He hurt his collarbone early in the 1994 season and hardly played. He came back in 1995 and was an afterthought on a team that had Herman Moore, Brett Perriman, and Johnnie Morton. So that was AC as a Lion. Eight receptions for 97 yards and three touchdowns. Almost like salt in a wound.
I don’t know what the Vikings gave up to finagle Carter from the Dolphins, but whatever it was, it was worth it. Carter caught 478 passes for well over 7,000 yards in nine years in Minnesota, for 52 touchdowns. He made three Pro Bowls (1987, ’88, and ’89). He eventually combined with Cris Carter to form quite a receiver tandem for the Vikes from 1991 thru 1993.
Yet another reason for me to hate the Vikings — though in this case, the Lions screwed themselves, really. I know, no shock there.