An elite, hard- working speedster allowed to wear the hallowed #1 jersey while in college at Michigan, Anthony Carter is the Wolverines all-time receptions leader and was nicknamed “AC” and “the Darter”.
The Michigan Panthers of the USFL drafted Carter where he elected to play over the NFL counterpart Dolphins. With quarterback (and Autograph HoF member) Bobby Herbert at the helm, Carter had a nice rookie season with 60 receptions for 1081 yards in 1983. AC would be named to the All-USFL team as a punt returner after the season. An injury would sideline Carter in 1984 after only 6 games, but he’d rebound in 1985 with the Oakland Invaders with 70 receptions for 1323 yards and 14 touchdowns, which would earn him All USFL team honors.
As a member of a USFL team, Carter’s rights were locked in by the Dolphins who drafted him back in 1983 (so he was not subject to the USFL CFL talent dispersal draft that the NFL later held). He would be traded away to the Minnesota Vikings who were still looking for a solid receiving force to replace Ahmad Rashad. AC would fit right in with the Vikings, plus it kept him close to Michigan where he went to college and played the majority of his time in the USFL. He would be a great asset to the Vikings and would demoralize opposing defensive backs with his speed averaging 19.1 yards a reception his rookie season on 43 receptions. In 1987 he earned his first Pro Bowl honor with a jaw dropping 24.3 yards per catch on 38 receptions. He’d hit paydirt 7 times that season including a career long 73 yard bomb for a touchdown. 1988 would see career highs again in receptions (72) and yards (1225) for the USFL speedster. Carter would follow this up again in 1989 and 1990 going over 1000 yards both seasons. He’d also have an incredible playoff game where he burned the San Fransisco defense for 10 receptions and 227 yards. As the 1991 season approached, Cris Carter arrived in Minnesota effectively halving AC’s production, but Anthony would continue playing for the Vikings over the next 3 seasons providing the team solid veteran leadership. Anthony would be left exposed during the free agent purge of 1993 by the Vikings and signed with the Lions, however injuries and time had caught up with the former Wolverine and he’d play only 4 games with the Lions and retire in 1995.
A college football hall of fame inductee, Carter has amassed a fair amount of accolades since retirement. Like many former USFL greats, one has to wonder how Carter’s legacy would figure into the football landscape if he had declared for the NFL draft or been paired up with Dan Marino in Miami. He is considered one of the 50 greatest Minnesota Vikings players of all time and was named the the USFL All Time team as first team wide receiver and second team punt returner. In 2011 he was also named the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.
After the stranglehold by Topps was loosened on the football card industry by Score and ProSet, the market was flooded with companies trying to cash in on the frenzy. Carter’s Topps cards really never did him justice, but Pro Set never failed to hit its mark. Since the implosion of the former card giant, I have gained a new found respect for how it revolutionized the industry and the 89 and 90 cards of Carter are excellent examples of this. Pinnacle was late to the party, and by that point I was sporadically collecting. They were revolutionary cards with a nice design at the time with a profile and action shot on the front.
With an average team on offense, AC was about ALL the Vikin– I mean ‘Monsters’ had in the original Tecmo Bowl. I also had Carter’s Starting Lineup action figure, which was a very plain action pose that Kenner used in that mold at the time.
USFL: Rec 160 Yds 3042 Avg 19.0 TD 28 | PR 45 Yds 408 Avg 9.0 Td 1
NFL: G/Gs 140/126 Rec: 486 Yds 7733 Avg 15.9 Td 55 Lg 73
Anthony Carter Biography Video from the Minnesota Vikings: