(January 28, 2001)
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cris Carter is famous for making
one-handed catches and acrobatic sideline receptions. This past season,
he became only the second player in NFL history to catch more than
1,000 passes, securing his place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
But when he is enshrined, he will be remembered for more than his
game. Fans will remember the athlete whose career and life were transformed
after he accepted Christ and the boldness with which he shared his
testimony. And they will remember how after each touchdown catch,
he took a knee and pointed skyward to his Heavenly Father.
Carter spoke recently with Paul Cossentine for the Pentecostal
Evangel: The story of your release by Buddy Ryan and the Philadelphia
Eagles has been called the wake-up call of your career. Is that what
caused you to look to Christ?
Carter: It wasnt immediately after that. I realized
there were aspects of my life that I wanted to change; but, as far
as inviting Christ into my life, it still took several more years
Evangel: What eventually drew you to Him?
Carter: My wife and I consciously decided that we knew there
was a better life than what we were living. We knew that Christ was
the way. It was just a matter of submitting to His will instead of
doing what we wanted to do.
The hardest thing for me was realizing that, even though I was a
great success, I was really nothing without God. I never really had
joy in my life. I had temporary happiness, but I was never really
satisfied. My only satisfaction has come through a relationship with
God, and it was the best decision Ive ever made. After walking
with God for seven years, I dont know how I ever made it without
Him. I really dont.
Evangel: Youre among the most visible and vocal athletes
in sports when it comes to sharing your faith in Christ. Why?
Carter: Every man casts his shadow. For me, my shadow is
very big given my professional life and the recognition I have received.
Young people and adults alike look up to me. So its a tremendous
opportunity to share and to show people the love of God not
only professionally what has driven me to have success, but also spiritually
what guides me on a day-to-day basis.
Evangel: You are viewed as a leader in the locker room. Talk about
the influence you can have on your teammates from a spiritual perspective.
Carter: The biggest role I have to play is day-to-day. How
I respond to adversity. How I love my brothers. Can I be unselfish?
Can I accept people, whatever their condition? Am I understanding?
Am I a good listener? Those are the things that drive me.
Evangel: At times your actions as a leader have been criticized.
What are your thoughts and feelings on dealing with the media?
Carter: Given what were up against spiritually, I realize
that the media is going to do certain things to try to discourage
me and try to take things away from my testimony. God gave me great
compassion. But people want to use [my Christian faith] to persecute
me as if I shouldnt have fire, or shouldnt challenge
my teammates, or shouldnt want to win as much as I do. But theyre
just using it as an excuse to be critical of me. It doesnt bother
me, and I realize that its part of the territory.
Evangel: What makes you a great receiver?
Carter: Its really working hard and trying to perfect
the receiver position as far as technique, running good routes, being
competitive daily, understanding the game, studying the game plan,
studying the film and being a student of the game. Making the unbelievable
catch is something that I practice and really strive for.
Evangel: What professional goals do you have left?
Carter: Ultimately, win a Super Bowl. Thats an accomplishment
that I havent been able to achieve. Ive changed my goals
as far as catches and touchdowns and things like that because I never
envisioned having the type of numbers that I have now. I would like
to catch 150 touchdowns if I can stay healthy, God willing. And catch
Evangel: Where do you think God may be leading you when your playing
days are over?
Carter: Ill be involved in worldwide evangelism, at
least part-time. Sharing the gospel, sharing my story, sharing my
life with people who are really hurting. My wife and I might also
counsel youth and young married couples about how Christ led us out
of a very average relationship into a great relationship.
Evangel: Many may be reading this magazine and be confronted with
the gospel for the first time. Maybe theyre on the fence and
they arent quite ready to make a decision for Christ. What would
you say to them?
Carter: Youre either in, or youre not. There is
no in-between. You either love Him and want to submit to Him, or youre
going to do your own thing. The one thing I always try to convey to
people is, "Youre either working for God or youre
working for the enemy." And you have to realize that the sooner
you get on Gods team the sooner youre going to have victory
in your life.