What exactly is so interesting about a season where the Vikings went 8-8? Why does it matter that the starting QB that season was guy that spells Dante with a U? Who cares that said QB won just 41 games in his career after being a first-round pick?
Daunte Culpepper started 100 games in his NFL career. He spent his rookie season on the bench behind Jeff George and Randall Cunningham. But in 2000 when he was a starter for the first time, he helped the team to an 11-5 record and a playoff win.
Over the next two seasons, he totaled 32 TD’s and 36 INT’s, and a 10-17 record as a starter. Culpepper threw 25 TD’s to 11 INT’s in 2003, helping the team to a 7-7 mark. This brings us to 2004.
A Nightly Highlight
Though the Minnesota Vikings finished the 2004 season with a .500 record, it was still good enough to get them to their second postseason with Culpepper at the helm. And it just seemed that he was locked in from day one. He put up MVP numbers, completing 69.2% of his throws en route to his only 4,000-yard passing season (4,717 yards).
Culpepper threw for 39 TD’s, and once again, had just 11 interceptions. His running ability wasn’t the same as it was when he had 10 TD’s on the ground in 2002, but he had 400 yards and a pair of scores. And when you look at who the team’s leading receiver that year was, you may blink a few times.
Nate Burleson, not Randy Moss, led the team with 1,006 yards receiving. He hauled in nine touchdowns, while Randy Moss caught 47 passes for 767 yards and 13 touchdowns. The team’s leading rusher was Onterrio Smith with 544 yards, making Culpepper’s season even more impressive. The fact that he was able to sling the ball so well with no threat of a run game was incredible.
Culpepper helped the team to a 31-17 road win over Brett Favre’s Packers in the Wild Card playoff game, before falling to the Eagles. This would be his final playoff appearance. A 2-2 record in postseason play greeted Culpepper at the end of his career.
He Made a Video Game Cover
Daunte Culpepper was never on the cover of Madden. He wasn’t on the cover of a knock-off version of it either. The game that Culpepper graced the screen of, was Atari’s Backyard Football 2006. It was a game that many loved during the first release in 1999, so it made sense to keep them coming.
From personal experience, Backyard Football 2006 is a fantastic game. You have all the classics like Pablo Sanchez and Dante Robinson. You can pick from professional several gunslingers like Tom Brady, Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick. But, you’d be denying yourself the chance to have fun by not selecting Culpepper.
I can speak from recent experience as well, having played the game in the early months of the pandemic as I was seeking nostalgia. Thanks to Culpepper’s ability to jump over tacklers and fire the ball like a torpedo, wins were aplenty. Shoutout to Sunny Day.
His Career After 2004
Culpepper failed to produce effectively and stay healthy after that career year. He started just seven games in 2005, throwing six touchdowns and 12 interceptions in seven starts. He went to the Dolphins in 2006, starting just four games, throwing for 929 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions.
Things didn’t change for the better in Oakland, where he went 2-4 in six starts, throwing five touchdowns and five interceptions. And starting 10 games in Detroit from 2008-2009, he went 0-10 with seven touchdowns and 12 interceptions. It’s crazy to think that just five years earlier, he was one of the best QB’s in the league.
Culpepper threw his final pass in the league at age 32. Today, he’s 43 years old. Do you know who else is 43, and also 6-3 as a starter in 2020? Tom Brady. That’s right. They are the same age.