The Culpepper saga has been ridden and written with many twists and turns. A first-round pick in 1999, Culpepper was able to learn behind veterans Randall Cunningham and Jeff George as a rookie before taking over in 2000. In his first season at QB, Culpepper led the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game and, for the next five years, was the Vikings' starting quarterback.
Things began to go south for Culpepper on Oct. 30, 2005. Already struggling that season, the Vikings called a running play designed to get Culpepper in the open field. The play was executed to perfection and Culpepper raced 20 yards on the QB draw before he took a direct shot to his right knee that tore all of the major ligaments. From that point on, his career took a severe downward spiral.
Unwilling to rehab in Minnesota or deal directly with new head coach Brad Childress, the Vikings traded Culpepper to the Dolphins for a second-round pick, which they used on OT Ryan Cook. Culpepper rushed back from the knee surgery to start the opener in 2006, but it was clear that his knee wasn't 100 percent and that he had lost considerable mobility due to the injury. He last only a few weeks as the starter and, by the end of the year, he was released. He spent the 2007 season with Oakland and never reclaimed the magic he had early in his career.
Along the way, Culpepper decided to become his own agent, which many believe proved to be a tragic flaw on his part. He was offered a one-year, $1 million contract to back up Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay and turned it down. He then competed with Byron Leftwich for the backup job in Pittsburgh and lost out. The final straw may have come when Baltimore signed Culpepper understudy Todd Bouman and didn't even call Pepp for a tryout.
Culpepper had a promising career in front of him and, if not for personal hard feelings against the Vikings organization, would likely still be Minnesota's quarterback. Instead, he's officially retired, but probably still waiting for his phone to ring if a starting QB goes down. It's a sad end to a productive career in which some scouts viewed QBs of his size to be the wave of the future.