Theismann Punks Culpepper

One of the events associated with this year's Super Bowl turned a bit ugly, as ESPN analyst Joe Theismann made a point to make Daunte Culpepper look bad.

Wednesday was supposed to be a good day for Daunte Culpepper -- a day of healing from the end of the Vikings' 2003 season. He was a finalist in a promotion called the Fed-Ex Air/Ground Players of the year. The quarterback finalists and three running back finalists were part of the celebration in Houston -- until Joe Theismann stepped in.

Theismann, a former NFL quarterback and college QB who changed the pronunciation of his name to garner support for a major award that rhymed with his new monicker, was the M.C. for the event. In his current job as network TV shill, he went out of his way to make Culpepper seem unworthy of being on the podium.

The other five finalists -- QBs Peyton Manning and Steve McNair and RBs Priest Holmes, Jamal Lewis and Ahman Green -- were all on playoff teams. Culpepper wasn't. Theismann made multiple references to the Vikings' last-second loss to the Cardinals that put the Packers in the playoffs. His remarks were appropriate only in talks to Ahman Green because Culpepper had done his part to put his team in the playoffs -- the last time he was on the field, his team led by 11 points with 6:48 to play.

Theismann's arrogance is renowned around the NFL. Some have contended that if you took the words "I" and "me" out of his vocabulary, Theismann couldn't complete a sentence as an NFL color commentator. But taking pot shots at Culpepper, who took the verbal onslaught with dignity, was uncalled for.

The only saving grace to the entire event was that it was fixed. The "Air" award went, as it should, to Manning. But the "Ground" award went to Green. With three finalists, you had a guy coming off hip surgery who had more touchdowns on the ground than anyone in NFL history (Holmes). The other guy had no quarterbacks -- all three stunk -- and still ran for 2,000 yards (Lewis). And Green wins?

Ashton Kutcher did well with "Punk'd." Theismann can't say the same. At least Joe Namath was drunk when he humiliated himself. The other Joe has no excuse.

THURSDAY NOTES
* VU has been told that Mike Tice has offered a job to former Jets defensive backs coach Bill Bradley to be a defensive assistant with the Vikings.
* Former Vikings long snapper Mike Morris and Bengals assistant coach Kurt Schultz are the frontrunners for the team's strength and conditioning coaching position.
* Lions coach Steve Mariucci showed he was serious about making a move in the NFC North, hiring former Bears head coach Dick Jauron as his defensive coordinator. Not only is Jauron respected for his defensive coaching ability, but his familiarity with the teams in the division make him a valuable asset for Mariucci -- who has limited experience vs. the Vikings, Packers and Bears.

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