Thursday, September 04, 2008

Daunte Culpepper and some inconvenient truths

Daunte Culpepper kind of proved that the weakest link in a would-be cause célèbre is usually the célèbre.

There should be outrage (well, not as much as Culpepper would like to see, but some) that the NFL season is starting tonight without a quarterback who could be starting for a few teams and helping out a few more as a backup. Instead, there's this:
"I would rather shut the door to such 'opportunity' than continue to wait for one of my fellow quarterbacks to suffer a serious injury. Since I was not given a fair chance to come in and compete for a job, I would rather move on and win in other arenas of life."
The most that's going to get is some self-righteous snickers and a string quartet of very small violins.

So be it. Culpepper and Randy Moss, and not just to someone who drank the Purple Kool-Aid, coulda-shoulda been this generation's Montana-to-Rice. Laugh all you want, but they were that good.

Instead, we're supposed to believe that no NFL team could use a 31-year-old quarterback who's one of the top-10 rated passers in league history, and had the fifth-best single-season rating in 2004, a year when Moss was limited by an injury.

The Kansas City Chiefs are starting Brodie Croyle. The Chicago Bears have Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman. The 49ers are seriously going to start J.T. O'Sullivan, who was the Vikings'' fourth-stringer two pre-seasons ago. What a joke.

Who knows, maybe it's possible that Culpepper will have a change of heart and try a comeback. The Vikings quarterback before him, Randall Cunningham (OK, there was Jeff George in between, but that memory's been mostly suppressed, thank you, Electroshock Therapy), had a year out of football. He returned and ended up being the NFL MVP.

Not to veer straight in to Bill Simmons-style gushing fanboyism, but it's almost like the 2000 Vikings were cursed. There was 41-donut in the 2000 NFC title game, Robert Smith walking away from football, Korey Stringer's tragic and unnecessary death and the break-up of Culpepper and Moss.

They should have been a combination for the ages. Instead, it's as if they paid the price because for good and ill, Culpepper and Moss, where they came from, how they carried themselves, represented what America is really like, maybe a little too much. By some stroke of luck, they each landed on the Vikings -- after other teams with higher draft picks had decided the likes of Curtis Enis and Cade McNown were superior offensive talents.

Granted, it's not for nothing that 41-donut happened right around the profoundly depressing 2000 Florida recount. It's taken eight years, but with Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen, Vikings fans are finally saying Yes We Can, albeit in typical understated fashion.

Now the quarterback is out of football at 31 years old and Moss is catching passes from darling-of-corporate-America, supermodel-schtupping Tom Brady with the New England Patriots. It would be infuriating, if it wasn't helping Moss win over Pro Football Hall of Fame voters and the Patriots passing game wasn't so gosh-darn entertaining to watch every week.

They always said the devil would assume many forms that are pleasing to the eye.

No doubt everyone has seen the Vikings/Obama video by now, but what the hell. It's too funny that Sen. Obama is actually a Bears fan.

Culpepper announces retirement (Access Vikings)
Daunte Culpepper Retires, Cites Unfairness in League (Sports On My Mind)
Culpepper, unable to catch on as free agent, retires at age 31 (John Clayton,

1 comment:

Jeff Dertinger said...

Man ... you just can't help yourself when it comes to trashing the Bears, can ya Neate?

If you weren't so good at it - and if it wasn't all so terribly true - it wouldn't sting so bad.

I think I could use some of that shock therapy you had to erase the McNown era.