Football Hall of Famer Cris Carter Tells NFL rookies: Get a ‘Fall Guy’

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(CNN) — In an NFL orientation meeting meant to aid in decision-making, NFL rookies were told by Hall of Famer and ESPN on-air talent Cris Carter that they should have a “fall guy” in their crew in case they run into legal issues.

Seen in a video wearing his Pro Football Hall of Fame jacket, Carter, joined on stage by fellow Hall of Famer Warren Sapp, told rookies gathered at the 2014 NFL Rookie Symposium that they should find someone else to take the blame should they get into trouble.

“Because all you guys aren’t going to do the right stuff,” Carter said. “I need to teach to you how to get around all of this stuff too. If you have a crew, one of them fools need to know that they’re going to jail. I know a lot of you aren’t going to drink, I know a lot of you aren’t going to use drugs, but still get yourself a fall guy.”

The video was from last year, but it was put into the spotlight now because of an ESPN profile that was published Friday on former San Francisco 49ers player Chris Borland. Borland retired in March after just one season, citing long-term concerns about his safety and mental health. In the ESPN story, Borland said during the 2014 NFL Rookie Symposium that a former player — whom he declined to name — told the rookies, “Get yourself a fall guy.”

“I was just sitting there thinking, ‘Should I walk out? What am I supposed to do?’ ” Borland said in the article.

Carter apologized for his words on Twitter on Sunday.

“Seeing that video has made me realize how wrong I was,” he said. “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.”

The video footage was on the NFL’s website and has since been pulled offline. “Evidently the video was up since the symposium in 2014,” NFL Vice President of Corporate Communications Brian McCarthy told CNN on Sunday. “It should not have been posted.”

In response to Carter’s comments at the symposium, the NFL issued the following statement:

“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.”

ESPN also issued a statement about Carter:

“We completely disagree with Cris’s remarks and we have made that extremely clear to him. Those views were entirely his own and do not reflect our company’s point of view in any way.”

The NFL describes the NFL Rookie Symposium as “an orientation for all drafted rookies based on the four core values of the league — Responsibility to Team, Respect, Integrity and Resilience.” The symposium includes presentations, videos and workshops on player health and safety, decision making, mental health, substance abuse, finance, building a winning culture and bystander intervention.