MINNEAPOLIS - At the NFL's 2014 NFC Rookie Symposium, featured speaker Cris Carter told the league's incoming rookies a bit of advice now setting off controversy.
"If y'all have got a crew, you have to have a fall-guy in the crew," Carter said.
Wearing his Hall of Fame gold jacket, the former Vikings great followed fellow Hall-of-Famer Warren Sapp's advice about staying out of trouble.
Sapp laughed out loud as Carter began telling the rookies to establish a friend willing to take the heat on behalf of the professional football players, should they find themselves in trouble.
But Carter continued, pulling then-rookie Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater on the stage.
"This right here is Teddy Bridgewater, Inc.," Carter said. "Now, I let my home boys know. Y'all want to keep rolling like this, then I need to know who's going to be the fall-guy. Who's going to be driving. Because you are all not going to be doing the right stuff, so I need to teach you how to get around this stuff too."
Sunday evening Carter responded to outrage over his comments with an apology on Twitter.
"Seeing that video has made me realize how wrong I was. I was brought there to educate young people and instead I gave them very bad advice. Every person should take responsibility for his own actions. I'm sorry and I truly regret what I said that day," Carter wrote.
The comments came to light in an ESPN the Magazine interview featuring Chris Borland, who retired from the San Francisco 49ers after one season because of concussion concerns.
The article says Borland was appalled at the advice, and quotes him as saying, "I was just sitting there thinking, 'Should I walk out? What am I supposed to do?'"
The ESPN article does not name Carter, an ESPN employee, as the former player who gave the advice. But various reports pointed to a 22-minute video posted on NFL.com of Carter and Sapp's presentation. The "fall-guy" portion lasts about two minutes. The video has since been taken down.
NFL Vice President of Communications Brian McCarthy emailed KARE 11 News this response:
"This was an unfortunate and inappropriate comment made by Cris Carter during the 2014 NFC rookie symposium. The comment was not representative of the message of the symposium or any other league program. The league's player engagement staff immediately expressed concern about the comment to Cris. The comment was not repeated in the 2014 AFC session or this year's symposium."
Carter was however invited back to speak at the 2015 symposium.
Hall of Fame Vikings player Carl Eller said he was appalled at Carter's comments.
"Really, we want to develop leaders. Not people who are, you know, schemers and trying to get away with stuff. That's just the wrong characteristic totally," Eller said.
Eller, who has spoken at the rookie symposium on the importance of character and developing off-the-field life skills, said he thinks Carter's comments were uncharacteristic.