'One small blip': Lions' Caldwell defends Cris Carter

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Cris Carter

Allen Park — The NFL rookie symposium is a great opportunity for young players to hear success and horror stories from past professional athletes as they make their transition into the league.

At the 2014 edition, though, Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter passed along some unfortunate guidance about having a "fall guy in the crew," according to several reports related to a video of the speech recently removed from NFL.com. Carter suggested players have a friend who was willing to go to jail for them.

The contents of the speech came to light this week in an ESPN feature on former 49ers linebacker Chris Borland, who retired this offseason one year into his professional career.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell defended the annual program — calling it a "tremendous" learning opportunity — as well as Carter when asked about the issue Monday.

"This is just kind of one small blip and everybody'll look at this as if it was kind of the major theme," Caldwell said. "And I'm going to tell you also, I know Cris Carter, and Cris Carter is a really strong, stand-up guy that has a lot of passion and emotion for this game."

Carter apologized and expressed regret for the remarks on Twitter Sunday. ESPN and the NFL apologized, too, while distancing themselves from the poor advice.

"I know he came out and apologized and those kinds of things, but let me just tell you, he's a man's man and he's always been," Caldwell said. "He's a guy that loves this sport, loves this game, loves this league — Hall of Famer."