[size=12pt]REACHING For the Ring[/size]
If wideout Anthony Carter can get his hands on the ball, this could be the year of the Vikings
August 14, 1989
Welcome to wide receiver, the most difficult position from which to dominate an NFL game. Everyone else on the field must perform before the ordinary receiver can. The linemen must block, the backs must decoy, the quarterback must put the ball on target, and the whole thing, of course, depends on the coach having called a decent play in the first place. Only after all this can a receiver shine. If football is chess, the modern game's best receiversÃ¢â‚¬â€players like Lance Alworth of the San Diego Chargers in the 1960s, Paul Warfield of the Miami Dolphins and Lynn Swann and John Stallworth of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the '70sÃ¢â‚¬â€have been bishops. One of them, used properly, can do great damage. Two can dominate the board.
On the whole, however, today's receivers play more like pawns. They are frequently faster than receivers of the past, but they don't seem to avoid or take hits very well. They tend to drop a money ball under duress, and they have trouble finding the dead spot in the zone. A decent double-team throws them into a state. If they get perfect calls, perfect throws and single coverage, they can get the job done. But dominating a game is beyond them.
Anthony Carter of the Minnesota Vikings and Jerry Rice of the San Francisco 49ers are the exceptions. They are true bishops. Either can dictate the course of a game. Rice, 26, has a Super Bowl ring. The 28-year-old Carter is still looking for one. Many in the league believe he has his best chance to win a championship this season with the powerful Vikings.
Rice, at 6'2", 200 pounds, is built like Hermes. Carter is 5'11" and has no legs to speak of. Over the years his playing weight has fluctuated between 155 and 170 pounds. He jogs with an uneven, flat-footed gait. "I've always said if the good Lord put anybody on earth to play football, it was AC," the Vikings' coach, Jerry Burns, has said. "He just forgot to give him a body."