Dennis Green did not just bring out the best in Daunte Culpepper, he aided Culpepper in putting up some of the best quarterback seasons in NFL history. In 2000, as a second year player, Culpepper took the reigns as a starter for Green’s high-flying offense that had featured Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon, Jeff George, and Brad Johnson to really air it out. Completing 62.7% of his passes for 3,937 yards, 33 TDs and an astounding 8.3 yards-per-pass, Culpepper put together an extremely impressive debut season. Over his first five seasons starting for the Vikings, Culpepper completed 64.4% of his passes for 18,598 yards, 129 TDs and 7.8 yards-per-pass. He even rushed for 28 TDs. That span culminated in 2004, when he not only rivaled Peyton Manning’s performance from that same season, he put up numbers that compare favorably against just about every other quarterback season in NFL history.
Injuries and his very unique, independent approach derailed his career to the point where we soon saw him on the sidelines for the Dolphins, Raiders and Lions. He just hasn’t been the same. But, he’s just 33 years old and thinks he can still play. So he’s giving it another shot and reuniting with Green – as a Mountain Lion.
Yep. The Mountain Lions. The Sacramento Mountain Lions used to be the California Redwoods. Does that help? It’s the UFL, where it seems more NFL careers may go to die than be born or re-born.
Culpepper packed up the wife and five children to travel from Florida to California and eschew holding a clipboard and collecting a nice check on NFL sidelines to start in nine games for the Mountain Lions beginning with September 17th’s tilt with the Hartford Colonials. Wow, how the mighty … are now in the UFL (that should totally be their slogan).
Daunte Culpepper joined the Rise Guys on KHTK in Sacramento to discuss joining the UFL, not joining the NFL, reuniting with Dennis Green, Ahman Green, and selling his wife on the move.
On why it’s the right move to join the UFL:
“It’s a great opportunity. It’s a new league. It’s exciting. A lot of people are excited about it. I’m just glad and thankful to be a part of it. I think it’s going to be great. It gives us a chance to get out and show some people some great football and move on.”
On reuniting with Dennis Green:
“He’s coach that motivates his players. He’s a high energy coach. He’s been successful because of that. He pays attention to detail and the little things. I am very glad and very proud to have been coached by him and to be back with him again.”
On deciding to start in the UFL rather than be a backup in the NFL:
“That’s the part of me where I’m saying, ‘I’m not 40.’ People feel like that a guy that’s 40 that wants to play is going to be a guy that’s a mentor to a guy and hold the clipboard. I’m not just at that point right now. I’m a realist. If I’m at the point where my skills are diminished and I can’t do the things I want to do on the field, then I understand that could be my role. At this point in my career, I’m just not comfortable with that role… I didn’t want to be sitting, waiting on somebody to call or waiting on someone get injured in the NFL. I figured if I want to be the best I can be this year, I need to be playing. That’s why I’m here.”
On selling his wife on being a Mountain Lion:
“At first, she didn’t know much about the league. She knows Coach Green and Coach (Mike) Kruczek. She knows that anything they’re a part of is going to be first class and that we are going to be out there to get the job done. The fact that we are coming all the way back out to California from Florida, she was a little iffy about that. But, she’s on board. I’m glad that we don’t have that to interfere as we move forward with this.”
On having to face former NFC foe Ahman Green who signed with Omaha:
“I didn’t know that. Y’all just broke that tough news to me. Like I said, in this league, you never know, there are a lot of guys that are not in the NFL that can still play. Hopefully more guys come and make this league this year greater. I think it’s great that Ahman decided to come to the league. He can play. He’s a great player. I’ve known him a long time. When he’s healthy, he can be a force to be reckoned with.”
And on if NFL labor issues played a role in his decision to play in the UFL:
“Good question. No. I read stuff. I see it. That had no bearing on my decision. Hopefully they can get that squared away, get that deal done. That had no bearing on my decision at all.”