I think I've got it figured out on Cris Carter. The reason he's so easy to dislike even when he's making sense and not actually trying to be condescending is because he's convinced that everything that comes out of his mouth is profound. Think about it. Have you ever heard Cris Carter waffle? Ever heard him indicate anything less than complete and absolute knowledge on whatever topic he's discussing? I mean, we all do it, we "say for pay" types, but once in a while, I've caught myself shrugging and I've seen other guys say they need more information. Cris Carter? Never. So I guess that explains why, every time he opens his mouth and waggles those pushbroom eyebrows, I want to blow holes in his contentions. This week, Carter was asked about not getting into the Hall of Fame. As Michael David Smith at PFT pointed out, only seven wideouts who began their careers after the 1970 merger have made it into Canton (Michael Irvin, Steve Largent, James Lofton, Art Monk, Jerry Rice, John Stallworth and Lynn Swann). On the outside looking in are guys like Tim Brown, Andre Reed and Carter. Carter chalked the lack of enshrined wideouts to the position being underloved. "I think the modern-day wide receiver, I would say that his skill level is not appreciated. Its not just about the numbers. Its the ability to catch the football and put your talent on display, Carter said in an interview with Michael Irvin. Here's the thing, Cris. Everybody loves watching wideouts play. Everybody marvels at their speed, athleticism and toughness. Nobody with an ounce of sense would contend that wide receiver, cornerback and, perhaps,running back are not the most athletic positions in football. But wide receiver is not an indispensable position. Quarterback is. Defensive end, linebacker, offensive line, quarterback. Critical. The closer you are to the ball at the snap, the more important you are to winning and losing on a weekly basis. Generally. For a wide receiver to be transcendent, he needs the coach to call the play, the line to block it, the quarterback to see it and then throw it. Then and only then does the receiver get his chance to put his "talent on display", as Carter says. Jerry Rice is probably the greatest football player of all time. But even he needed his Walsh, Montana and that Niners offensive line to let the talent shine. Randy Moss will be in the Hall of Fame before Cris Carter because Moss was transcendent, the greatest deep threat in NFL history. Cris Carter is Art Monk without the rings. I mean, Torry Holt has 100 fewer catches in five fewer seasons, 500 fewer yards and a Super Bowl ring. Both were Pro Bowl players and among the best in the league at their positions over six-year stretches. Everybody can tell wide receivers are talented. Everyone has an appreciation for them. But sorry Cris, you aren't the enlightened one here preaching to the unknowing rubes who don't get your subtle beauty.
FOXBORO -- What could have been an awkward plane ride for Tom Brady and John Harbaugh was made less so thanks to a high school lacrosse player.
Brady and Harbaugh shared a private plane back from Michigan where Jim Harbaugh and his University of Michigan program put on an event for National Signing Day. About a year earlier, Brady told a room full of reporters that Harbaugh and his coaching staff should study the rule book and "figure it out" after hearing that they were pretty upset about the unusual formations the Patriots ran during their AFC Divisional Round win over Baltimore.
They may not have been on the best of terms.
"I was pissed off," he told ESPN's Ian O'Connor before the start of this season. "It was uncalled for. And the rules are deeper than that, and I know the rules, and I stand by why that play shouldn't have been allowed. ... So yeah, that should never have been said."
But on the flight was Harbaugh's daughter Alison, a high school lacrosse player. When Brady took some time to share a few thoughts on competitiveness with her, he and Harbaugh found common ground.
"We had a lot of fun," Harbaugh said of the flight. "I don't know if he's talked about that at all, but we ended up sharing a plane ride along with my daughter and a couple of his people, friends of his. We just had a chance to just talk for a couple hours. And really more than anything, Alison got a chance to listen to Tom Brady talk about competing and what it takes to be great at what you do.
"And one of the funny things about it was, he was so nice to her. He gets off and they go, and we get back on the plane and we're talking, and she says something like, 'Boy, Tom really is a nice guy.' And I look at here and go, 'Tom?' I'm thinking 'Mr. Brady' would have been more appropriate. She said, 'He said to call me Tom.' I got a kick out of that.
"It was good. Lot of respect for him and a lot of respect for what he's accomplished. He's very tough to compete against. The best quarterback that's played, certainly in this era, without question in my mind. That's how I would rank him. And it's just another tough challenge to have to play against him."
DeMar DeRozan didn't get a chance to answer one question in his postgame interview before being interrupted by Kyle Lowry, Jared Sullinger, and LeGarrette Blount.