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‘Journey’ to hall enjoyable for Carter

Cris Carter’s day is coming.

The Middletown native and former wide receiver will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton on Aug. 3, capping a professional career that included stints with the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins.

Carter said it’s been “a tremendous adventure” since the Class of 2013 — which includes Larry Allen, Curley Culp, Jonathan Ogden, Bill Parcells, Dave Robinson and Warren Sapp — was announced Feb. 2.

“It’s been a long journey,” Carter said last last week during an NFL media conference call. “I know the magnitude of the honor. I know my life has changed forever. I know it’s something I never even imagined happening for me. I’m just going to try my best to enjoy it all.”

Carter, 47, was voted into the Hall of Fame after falling short on five previous ballots. Another famous Middletown native, Jerry Lucas, is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

“When I moved to Middletown, my mom told us about all the great athletes, and one of those athletes of course was Jerry Lucas,” Carter said. “I’ve always been very, very proud of Jerry Lucas, and I’m very, very proud that we went to the same university in Ohio State. He’s always been a role model for me.

“I think (Middletown) is the only city of that size to have one in the Basketball Hall of Fame and one in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And for the most part, people know that my first love is basketball.”

Carter is looking forward to seeing many familiar faces in Canton. His Middletown coach, Bill Conley, will be there. His OSU coaches, Earle Bruce and Urban Meyer, will be there. His family and friends will be there.

“The guys I played football with when I was 8, 9, 10 years old, they’re still my best friends, so all those guys will be there,” Carter said. “They’re all the people that helped develop me and spent a lot of time with me. And when I went through my darkest hours, they never abandoned me. They always thought I was going to do something special with my life. I’m just glad I was able to get it together and not disappoint them.”

Carter took pride in his consistency, conditioning and work ethic as a receiver. He spent the majority of his career with the Vikings after getting cut by Buddy Ryan and the Eagles.

Cocaine and alcohol problems led to Carter’s departure from Philadelphia.

“I wouldn’t say it was my lowest point because actually at the time I was clean and I wasn’t using any substances,” he said of getting released by the Eagles. “The times where I was trying to stay clean and I couldn’t, those are the lowest moments.”

Carter said his time in Minnesota was special. He was a fan favorite there.

“People went out of their way to make me feel comfortable,” Carter said. “They didn’t have to like me. They didn’t have a reason to. There wasn’t a lot of great stories out there about me, but from the beginning they loved me. I enjoyed every moment.

“From the time I warmed up, I was trying to put on a show for those people so that they would be proud. It’s tough for people to bring their kids to the game. I lived in a family where that was not even an option, trying to go to a sporting event or extra things like that. I didn’t want people to feel like I cheated them out of the money that they spent.”

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