|There's an argument to be made that Culpepper was the best QB in the class of '99. (Getty Images)|
More than two years removed from his last NFL action, former quarterback Daunte Culpepper admitted Saturday that his professional football days are firmly behind him.
"As far as me playing, I think I am done," Culpepper told the Orlando Sentinel. "That part of my book is closed. The next chapter is, I have kids and I will be coaching them."
The Vikings selected Culpepper with the 11th overall pick of the 1999 NFL Draft. He was one of five quarterbacks taken in the first round that year (along with Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, Akili Smith and Cade McNown). And while McNabb may have had a longer career, Culpepper's was arguably better. In 2004, he completed a league-leading 379 passes for 4,717 yards and 39 touchdowns. His 294.8 yards-per-game average also was the NFL's best. (FootballOutsiders.com ranks his '04 performance second only to Peyton Manning, who launched 49 TDs that year.)
A serious knee injury in 2005 ended Culpepper's tenure in Minnesota and effectively ended his NFL career. He would play four more seasons with Miami, Oakland and Detroit, but never returned to the form that made him one of the league's best young talents during his seven years with the Vikings. Interestingly, in 2006, then-Dolphins head coach Nick Saban, in his first year on the job, chose to trade for Culpepper instead of sign free agent Drew Brees. It's a decision that undoubtedly haunts Dolphins fans every time they think about a quarterback situation that hasn't been settled since Dan Marino retired to begin this century.
Culpepper, who spent the 2011 season with the USFL's Sacramento Mountain Lions, doesn't sound like he has many regrets as he moves to the next phase of his life.
"I am retired, obviously, and I am raising my kids and living in South Florida,'' he said. "That's a full-time job. … I will be part of athletics and a part of sports, hopefully my whole life. It makes me feel good. I love to compete. Now I'll be competing in men's leagues, in basketball and softball and stuff.''
Culpepper, a three-time Pro Bowler, played in 10 NFL seasons, passed for 24,153 yards, including 149 touchdowns and 106 interceptions. In his one season with the USFL's Mountain Lions, he logged 1,944 passing yards, 10 TDs and 12 picks. And unlike Kordell Stewart, it doesn't sound like Culpepper plans to sign a one-day contract to officially mark his retirement.
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