Aaron at Cheesehead.tv doesn’t agree with my take on Daunte Culpepper. Fair enough. I’m not going to rehash the argument since we’ve had it twice before. But my opposition to Culpepper is based on far more than “emotion” — the same charge Aaron leveled at me last time. (To be fair, since he thought Andy wrote the latest post, maybe he thinks it’s an original charge.) I think there’s a pretty strong fact-based argument against Culpepper. I tried to make here it a couple months ago.
Daunte Culpepper is no longer a good quarterback. After coming out of Central Florida in 1999, he sat his rookie year. He had a solid second year, then two bad ones and a decent one. In 2004, he had his best season ever, throwing an extraordinary 39 touchdowns leading a very solid Vikings offense. In 2005, Randy Moss was traded. The next year Culpepper was awful. He went 2-5 before getting injured. Brad Johnson came in and managed to win six straight games with the same offense. He went to Miami, then Oakland and has been awful at each stop.
Over his career, Culpepper has been sacked an average of three times per game. In 92 games, he has fumbled 93 times. (Favre fumbled closer to once every other game.) His career won-loss record is 41-47. So Culpepper was uneven over the first four years of his career and has been awful over the last four.
The bigger issue for me, though, is his character. I believe he would be an awful presence in the locker room, especially for a young quarterback hoping to take control of his team.
By all accounts, the guy is a problem. In 2005, Culpepper blew out a knee. That same year, he was charged as part of the Vikings “Love Boat” scandal, though the charges were later dropped because the judge did not find “probable cause.”
When the Vikings asked him to rehab with the team, Culpepper refused. Worried that Johnson was on the rise after performing well as Culpepper’s replacement, he first reportedly asked for a raise and then asked to be traded. (Culpepper doesn’t use an agent and often communicates with the press via rambling email.) New Vikings coach Brad Childress called Culpepper selfish and compared him to Terrell Ownens. “It just became a deal where I didn’t feel like it was the team. I felt like it was ‘me,’ ” Childress said of his interactions with Culpepper. “And I went through a big ‘me’ situation last year with a guy who was all about ‘me.’ “
After he ended up in Miami, Culpepper pushed himself to return from his knee injury. It did not go well. He blamed the Dolphins. A bad situation got worse. When Dolphin Coach Nick Saban told Culpepper he would be benched, the two engaged in a shouting match at practice. Eventually Culpepper demanded that the Dolphins release him (second team in as many year) and called for the NFLPA to intervene on his behalf. The ESPN article about it was headlined “Peeved Culpepper vows to block trade plans.” He was escorted from a practice by Dolphins security.
In fairness, to Culpepper there have been reports out of Oakland that he served as something of a mentor to JaMarcus Russell. Good for him, though Culpepper might have had to be on his best behavior. There were persistent reports that his debilitating hamstring injury came after he pulled it in a race with Stanford Routt, a collegiate sprinter, trying to prove that he could still run.
Three quick points. I didn’t argue that Culpepper is a moron and a head-case because he didn’t take the Packers job. He was a moron and a head-case long before that. My argument was that his unwillingness to take $1 million from the Packers was further evidence of this point. It is.
Second, I agree that some people are too eager to protect Aaron Rodgers’ potentially fragile psyche. I made that argument myself after we drafted Brian Brohm. Competition is one thing. It’s quite another to have a problematic veteran QB stirring up problems because he is overconfident in his own skills and thinks he should be starting. Maybe Culpepper would not have done this. As noted, he apparently mentored JaMarcus Russell last year. But Russell wasn’t keeping Culpepper from starting. Culpepper’s own idiocy was.
Finally, in the middle of Aaron’s post on “emotion,” we find this passage:
Regardless of how much promise either rookie has shown or will show, they are both rookies. And if we see either one taking meaningful snaps in a game this season, you can mark a large ‘L’ on that weekly Packer schedule that you have hung on your wall as soon as they enter the game…If we see either one starting more than one or two games, you can consider the season over.
I hope neither rookie has to play this year. But if that unhappy circumstance came upon us, I’m not sure it means the season is over. Brian Brohm is the most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft and while rookies often struggle, there is some precedent for rookie success. (In 2004, rookie Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers to a 15-1 record and an appearance in the AFC championship game.)