Monday, August 24, 2015

Cris Carter, the Cool Dad

For years I have watched Cris Carter on set for ESPN and said out loud, "He is such an asshole."

Most recently my wife has been privy to hearing this over and over. Today she said, "Yeah, I always hear you say that about him. What did he do now?"

Here ya go.

As an alum of Ohio State, I get excited when I see the countless Buckeye media personalities strewn across the numerous outlets. It's a point of pride, since presumably they not only handled themselves well on the field, but also off.

Then there's Cris Carter, the loudmouth embarrassment who does not.

The same Carter who signed an illegal contract with an agent while at Ohio State and was suspended, which ultimately hurt the program. The same Carter who had problems with Philadelphia Eagles Coach Buddy Ryan because of alcohol and drug abuse, who was then traded. The Carter whose Hall of Fame speech seemed like more of an act than something genuine. And now the Carter who tells NFL rookies to make sure they have a "fall guy" when something goes wrong in their lives.

Keepin' it real.

Shocking that his son Duron Carter was kicked out of Ohio State, universally disliked for his poor work ethic, released from Alabama again for grades, signed with Florida Atlantic, but was later released again after doing poorly in school. When Cris Carter was asked about his son's problems he said, "He. Just. Hates. Fucking. School!"

As real as it gets.

I bring up the younger Carter because as someone who follows Ohio State closely, it has been discussed in hush tones the reason Duron is such an irresponsible person is because Cris Carter was never around to make sure he wasn't.

Does this surprise you? Then again, if Cris is doing the day to day parenting, I can't imagine things would have worked out any better. Yet the real problem here is Duron Carter had every opportunity in life to excel in school, while so many other kids do not, and yet his parents still allowed him to fail time and time again.

It's on Duron, but it's also on his parents.

It finally dawned on me this morning while watching Cris bend his knees and preach across that NFL stage, what he wants to be: The Cool Dad.

You know the guy. The one who wants young people to think, "He's just like us." That no matter how much fame, fortune, or success he achieves, he's still that kid fighting to make it. Just like those kids he was speaking with.

It's not an attractive quality. It's an immature and irresponsible one.

No one should ever minimize or disparage what it takes for people to rise up out of bad situations, and there are countless athletes who do. Some of them have a hard time escaping their own past, as was assumed about Desean Jackson just last year.

When it comes to Carter though, he's not using his stature to help these athletes learn from their mistakes, or grow as men. He's trying to portray himself as one of them even to this day, as if to suggest you can never escape where you came from. And that you don't even need to try to! Just go be you.

Even if his message had been, "Don't do drugs...avoid bad's a second chance...", as naive and cliche as it may sound, maybe it resonates with some of those young men. Maybe he could help even a few of them become better people, who in turn pass it on.

But he didn't do that.

No. He was the Cool Dad. The one who might buy the underage kids beer, and then throw a few back. Maybe take a toke. The Cool Dad might let his kid drive before he gets his license. Takes his kids to R-rated movies. Lets his kid throw parties at the house. Shows up at sporting events, but not there to finish the homework. That's the Cool Dad.

"Mr. Carter, do you know Duron didn't hand in his research people?"

"Yes, but that's only because he HATES FUCKING SCHOOL!"

We all know the Cool Dad. And as we become adults and begin to look reflect on that person, we all realize the Cool Dad wasn't really that cool at all. In fact, it's the Responsible Dad who we come to admire, and hope to one day emulate. And there's probably not a group of people in this country who need a lesson from the Responsible Dad like NFL rookies. It's hard enough for many of these kids to overcome their difficult pasts. It's made that much more difficult when a Hall of Fame player is telling you it's okay not to.

Cris Carter shouldn't be on a stage telling young people how to act. Cris Carter should be sitting in the audience learning how to be an adult.

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