More than three weeks since he last sat opposite Nick Wright on “First Things First,” Fox Sports viewers have a nagging question: “Where’s Cris Carter?”
Carter last appeared on FS1’s three-hour morning show on Oct. 30, and it wasn’t long before his name and likeness had been scrubbed from the Fox Sports website and marketing materials. Pull up the First Things First page today, and you’d never know he’d even been on the show at all.
Unsurprisingly, Carter did not leave FS1 on friendly terms. We know that he was fired – and escorted out of the building by security guards – though the precise nature of his abrupt exit remains shrouded in mystery.
One early theory for Carter’s firing was that he was offended that Fox declined to include him in its Thursday Night Football pregame coverage.
Both “First Things First” and the pregame show are filmed in Fox’s Manhattan studios, making Carter – who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013 – a natural (and inexpensive) choice to help out on Thursday nights. Instead, Fox frequently flew in other analysts, including Tony Gonzalez, who lives in Los Angeles.
According to Front Offices Sports, Carter had complained about the perceived slight , and tempers boiled over during a meeting with Fox executives shortly before his ouster.
But New York Post sources later revealed that Carter’s exit stemmed from something “more serious” than a tiff over Thursday Night Football. What that “more serious” matter was remains a mystery.
Bloggers were quick to quip that, no matter the details, Carter was fired because he failed to follow his own infamous advice: Always have a fall guy.
Carter hasn’t spoken publicly about his departure from “First Things First” and Fox Sports.
Nor have his Twitter habits changed. His feed is populated with a mixture of sports takes and Bible verses, though – unsurprisingly – he’s stopped retweeting FS1 clips.
Fans have speculated that at least some of the Bible verses he has posted are his way of passive-aggressively commenting on the situation without violating any confidentiality agreements.
He also recently tweeted out a link to “Life Goes On” by 2Pac.
Fox Sports has revealed as little information as possible about Cris Carter’s exit. Fox’s only public statement did nothing more than confirm what everyone already knew: Carter had left the company.
Cris Carter is no longer with Fox Sports. There is no further comment at this time.
Carter’s former co-hosts, Nick Wright and Jenna Wolfe, have also been mum.
Fox Sports has not named a replacement for Carter, who had been with the company since 2016.
According to Richard Deitsch of The Athletic , the show “remains a priority for FS1,” and Fox does plan to find a permanent replacement. But there’s no clear timeline for naming his successor.
Generally speaking, Fox will likely pursue one of three strategies to fill the vacant chair on “First Things First.”
Ex-NFL defensive lineman Chris Canty has shouldered much of the load since the Hall of Famer’s departure. Canty currently splits time between Fox and ESPN, where he co-hosts daily three-hour regional radio program Humpty & Canty.
If Canty doesn’t assume the job full time, FS1 has a number of other promising athlete-analysts on its bench, some of whom have appeared on “First Things First” on days when Canty hasn’t.
Fox Sports analysts like Reggie Bush have also been floated as frontrunners for Cris Carter’s old job.
Alternatively, the network poached a number of high-profile ESPN personalities when it reinvented itself as the “Fox News of sports commentary ,” including talking-head heavyweights like Colin Cowherd and Skip Bayless.
Consequently, some pundits believe Fox may take advantage of an otherwise-messy situation to upgrade its own roster of talent and take a jab at its larger rival simultaneously.
Some industry executives have said that Fox should diverge from its conventional FS1 format and hire its first female host to serve as a debater rather than just a moderator.
One prime female candidate would be Joy Taylor, a trained broadcaster who began her FS1 tenure as a moderator on “Undisputed.” Taylor quickly earned a promotion to news anchor on “The Herd with Colin Cowherd,” but she still plays a clear second fiddle to the show’s titular personality.