Daunte Culpepper is a two time All-Pro NFL quarterback and three time NFL Pro-Bowler. In his best season, in 2004, Culpepper passed for a league-leading 4,717 yards, a Viking-record 39 touchdowns, and only 11 interceptions,
Culpepper also broke legendary Dan Marino’s NFL record for combined passing and rushing yards, compiling 5,123 total yards. His 2,323 rushing yards from 2000-2004 also made him only the fourth quarterback in NFL history to run for more than 2,300 yards in a five-season period.
So where on God’s green earth is he today?
The answer is: he’s the starting quarterback for the Lions — The Sacramento Mountain Lions, that is.
The Mountain Lions are a professional American football team based in Sacramento, California that plays in the United Football League (UFL) which is an independent professional American football league that began play in October 2009. The league currently has five franchises located in cities where the NFL has no current professional team.
The teams are as follows — this will only take a minute: the Florida Tuskers, the Hartford Colonials, the Las Vegas Locomotives, the Omaha Nighthawks, and the Sacramento Mountain Lions.
This professional league is made up of names formerly associated with the NFL, such as Kordell Stewart as a color analyst, Jim Fassel as the head coach/GM of the Las Vegas Locomotive and Dennis Green the GM/head coach of the Mountain Lions. It’s kind of a ‘who’s-who’ of …’Where’s…who?’
So why is Dante Culpepper, two time All-Pro quarterback, in this league? Some point to the season after his best, 2005. The first two games of the 2005 season were disappointments, as the Vikings lost each of those games, with Culpepper throwing no touchdown passes, eight interceptions, and fumbling twice.
On October 30, he suffered a knee injury during a 38-13 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Culpepper sustained damage to three of the four major ligaments in the knee: the ACL, PCL and MCL. He was placed on injured reserve with a view to picking up where he left off as an elite quarterback after rehab.
Later that year, in December of 2005 Culpepper fortune plunged deeper when he and three other players were charged with indecent conduct, disorderly conduct and lewd or lascivious conduct for their involvement in a boat cruise scandal. Culpepper escaped those charges, however, due to a lack of probable cause.
After all of that, Culpepper, according to the Associated Press, expressed displeasure in Minnesota, and said that if he was not traded, he wanted to be released. Culpepper ended up being traded to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a second round draft pick.
In between then and now Culpepper had moved around from the Miami Dolphins, to the Oakland Raiders, where in 2008, injury riddled, with a performance that fell below average, he retired. Within that same year, though, the lowly Detroit Lions were in search of help anywhere they could find, and signed Culpepper to a two-year deal. The Lions, however, ended their season very disappointingly, being only the second team in NFL history to go 0 – 16.
In September of 2009, it was reported that, first overall draft pick Matthew Stafford was named the starter for the Lions regular season opener against the Saints. In the meantime, Culpepper had suffered a foot injury in the preseason further confirming a 2009 bust.
Which brings us to now.
On June 7, 2010, Culpepper signed with the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League. He has yet to play a game, but at the looks of the Mountain Lions website, they are very excited to have him.
Culpepper’s first game is Saturday, September 18, 2010 against the Hartford Colonials at Rentschler Field Hartford, CT, 2:30 PM EDT.
Tickets run anywhere from $15 – $44 and covers anything from a single game, to premium seating, season tickets.