Daunte Culpepper is a guy that you really don't hear a lot about these days. Drafted in the first round in 1999, he became the Vikings starter in 2000, and led the Vikings to the NFC Championship against the Giants where I don't remember what happened.
The Vikings fell on tough times from 2001-03, but rallied to make the playoffs in 2004 as a wildcard, where Culpepper had one of his best games as a Viking, out playing Brett Favre at Lambeau, as Minnesota topped Green Bay. In 2005, on the heels of the Randy Moss trade, Culpepper and the Vikings struggled, and when he suffered his ghastly knee injury in Carolina early in the season, it marked the end of Culpepper's time in Minnesota, and the beginning of the end of the Mike Tice era.
Culpepper was traded to Miami prior to the 2005 season, and bounced around to Oakland and Detroit for several unspectacular seasons before he finally retired in 2009. The knee injury largely robbed Culpepper of his mobility, and he never got back to his Minnesota level, where he finished second in the MVP voting in 2004.
Jeff Cox of CNBC.com caught up with him and talked about Ballghazi and our new favorite quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater. On the deflated football controversy, for Culpepper, it's still about playing the game, and it's more noise than anything else:
Asked if he thought the controversy was as big of a deal as it's become on the nation's sports pages, Culpepper said, "Not really," and said he doesn't think the team should be punished. The game is about a lot more than the air in the football, he said.
"It's still all about tackling and blocking and coaching and catching the football," said Culpepper, who took the Vikings to the NFC championship game once, and led the team to a couple of other playoff appearances. "Just the basics of football."
Yeah, pretty much, Daunte. But I found his opinion on Teddy Bridgewater pretty compelling, since Culpepper was the last franchise QB this team had, and had injuries not cut short his career, would have probably ended his career as the all time leading passer in Vikings history. He is currently third all time behind Fran Tarkenton and Tommy Kramer. Anyway, said DC about TB:
As for the Vikings, he's high on their rookie quarterback phenom Teddy Bridgewater, whom he calls "one of the best quarterbacks (out of college) over the last 10 years."
High praise indeed from a guy that played the game at a high level here in Minnesota, was the best quarterback the Vikings had seen over a five year period since Kramer and Tarkenton, and took the Vikings to the playoffs twice in five years.