Daunte Culpepper signs with the UFL

Former NFL Pro Bowl QB Daunte Culpepper is looking to turn-up the heat in the UFL

In a “Let’s Do It, Again” moment, former NFL quarterback Daunte Culpepper “officially” signed with the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League where he will be reunited with his former Minnesota Vikings head coach Dennis Green.

Once one the NFL’s leading offensive quarterbacks, Culpepper will be trying to resurrect his career during the UFL’s second season.  The former Vikings star was a three-time Pro Bowl selection (2000, 2003, and 2004), who shined earlier in his 11-year NFL career playing for the Minnesota Vikings (first 7 years).  He also spent time with Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders and Detroit Lions while finishing with NFL passing numbers 24153 yards, 149 touchdowns, and 106 INTs plus 2652 rushing yards and 34 TDs .

Culpepper said of the signing, “My goal for this year was to get on the field and play football”.  He added, “When the opportunity came for me to sign with the UFL and play for coach Green in Sacramento I could not resist.  I am impressed with his approach to the game and to his players”. 

Head Coach Green will not be the only familiar face that who will greet Culpepper in Sacramento as his former college head coach at Central Florida, Mike Kruczek (offensive coordinator), is also on the Mountain Lions’ staff.  Culpepper said of getting back with Kruczek, “I am also excited to be reunited with my college coach Mike Kruczek as the offensive coordinator.  I am expecting to have a lot of fun running a wide-open offense and being a part of the United Football League.  California here I come!”

Maybe reuniting with Green and Kruczek will help the former 1999 first round selection (11th overall) jumpstart his career outside the big leagues, the same way former comeback kid Tommie Maddox did in the long gone Xtreme Football League (XFL).  The former first round bust with the Denver Broncos jumped back to the NFL as the starter for the Pittsburgh Steelers after winning the XFL championship playing in half stadiums for the league’s LA franchise.

There is no doubt that Culpepper has talent as shown by his numbers with the Vikings — completed 64.4% of his passes for 20,162 yards, and 135 touchdowns.   But the former Madden cover player (2002) will need a good performance in the UFL to get his circuitous career back on track.

If you can believe it at one time, Culpepper’s career rivaled 1999 Draft Classmate Donovan McNabb. I still can remember the dangerous dual-threat quarterback that led the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game in his first year as a starter in 2000 – lost badly to the NY Giants. 

One of his other career highlights was during the 2004 NFL season, where he passed for a league-leading 4,717 yards, Vikings-record 39 touchdowns and was named to his third career Pro Bowl.   Culpepper also broke Dan Marino’s NFL record for combined passing and rushing yardage during that magical season, amassing 5123 total yards. 

But a devastating knee injury suffered against the Carolina Panthers in 2005 changed everything. After his knee injury and a much-publicized private charter boat ride, the Vikings traded Culpepper to the Miami Dolphins in March 2006 — for a second-round pick.  Since that time, Culpepper has been the definition of a “journeyman quarterback”. 

In 2006, Culpepper started the first four games of the season for Miami then he was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.  After that he landed in Oakland, where he started six unspectacular games with the Raiders in 2007.  And after a brief retirement – due to his frustration of not finding a starting job — Culpepper played the last two seasons (’08 and ’09) with the Lions mostly as a backup to 2009 first overall pick Matthew Stafford. 

We will see if Culpepper can turn back the clock in the UFL.  But it is important to remember that he is still only 33 years old.    So there is still a chance – even if it is slim — that in late November, an NFL team will sign this former star quarterback for the stretch run of the 2010 season. 

So it is pertinent that Culpepper during his time in the UFL not only plays well, but that he also dominates  to make a good impression on NFL GM’s.  And some last advice for the former UCF star, if there is such a future opportunity in the NFL, Culpepper “The Agent” better help Culpepper “The Player” by taking any deal that comes their way – once turned down the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2008 for a back-up position.

Coach Green said of signing his former star pupil, “Bringing a player of Daunte’s caliber to the Mountain Lions is a major step forward not only for the team but also for the UFL.  He is a player who will excite the fans here and will be an integral part of the team we are building that we hope can bring a championship to Sacramento.  On a personal note, I am delighted to be reunited with Daunte.”


Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

One Response

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