How Did Culpepper Situation Get So Bad?

The Vikings' trading of Daunte Culpepper was a culmination of public events that precipitated a messy divorce.

The Vikings' decision to pull the trigger on the trade that sent Daunte Culpepper to Miami for the bargain-basement price of a second-round pick in next month's draft brought closure to what had gone from a seemingly perfect marriage to an unworkable situation.

What the trade didn't do was answer the key question: How did things turn so ugly, so quickly?

"Maybe it's a mid-football life crisis," Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said. "I don't know, a career crisis ... he wanted a change."

Among the list of issues contributing to Culpepper's departure from Minnesota were his desire for more guaranteed money, misdemeanor charges against him from the Vikings' infamous "Love Boat" incident last October and his decision to rehabilitate his injured right knee at his Florida home instead of in Minnesota.

Culpepper and new coach Brad Childress also never hit it off and there were some who thought Childress had serious doubts about Culpepper's ability to run the West Coast offense the Vikings will use. That assignment will now fall to 37-year-old Brad Johnson, who is familiar with the West Coast system.

Childress did not address the local media but he did talk about the trade on Sirius radio, saying he spent more time with Culpepper during pre-draft workouts in 1999 than he had since taking the Vikings job Jan. 6.

"He was only up here a couple of times," Childress said. "One time he came and left, and the other time we sat and met a little bit. ... But our recent relationship, I would say, hasn't been great from the standpoint of there wasn't a lot of give and take."

That give and take includes an e-mail the Vikings sent to Culpepper in early March. Its contents are unknown but appear to be the final straw in the relationship; Culpepper responded to the message by demanding to be traded or released.

Culpepper, who had taken to communicating with the Twin Cities media via e-mail, finally spoke to ESPN after the trade with the Dolphins was complete.

"I kind of feel like it's halftime of my career right now," he said. "Everybody knows that the team that makes the best adjustments at halftime usually wins the game. ... (This experience) really opens your eyes up - when you feel like you want to do the best you can and try the best you can, but you feel like it wasn't wanted, that it didn't matter.

"It was tough. But instead of getting bitter, I kind of used it as motivation and I got better. A saying that I heard a long time ago is that things that don't kill you make you better."

In what he said was his final e-mail to Minnesota media, Culpepper wrote: "I look forward to returning to my roots, where I can spend the second half of my career playing the game I love in front of the Florida football faithful."

NOTE

  • Although nothing has been made official, the Vikings are planning on sporting redesigned uniforms in 2006. At least four players were in New York recently for fittings of the new uniform, which might include purple pants.


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