AN OPEN LETTER FROM DAUNTE CULPEPPER
Posted by Mike Florio on August 29, 2008, 1:12 p.m. EDT
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[Editor’s note: We’ve recently posted several items about the current status of former Vikings, Dolphins, and Raiders quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who remains without a team as the 2008 regular season approaches. In an item for SportingNews.com, we argued that Culpepper needs to hire an agent, and we also have suggested that he possibly is being blackballed by the league. A member of the media pointed out to Culpepper one of our stories, and it prompted Culpepper to contact us about his situation. We offered to give him the space to make his case to the NFL’s 32 teams, and to the millions (OK, thousands) pro football fans who regularly visit this site. His letter appears below, unedited and unabridged.]
A letter to the NFL community:
Now that we are on the eve of teams selecting their 53 man rosters, I feel compelled to give my account of what I believe is a misunderstanding of who I am and what I have been trying to accomplish during this free agency period. It is my hope that I can provide some clarity by sharing what I am thinking straight from me and not through the interpretation of the media, or second hand information. That is why I am grateful to Mike Florio for giving me this platform to speak to the NFL community through the vehicle of profootballtalk.com.
First of all I want to explain why I have decided to exercise my right under the CBA to represent myself rather than hire an agent. This decision has more to do with my desire to handle my business affairs personally, than anything negative about agents. After the 2004 season I took a crash course in understanding my 10 year 102 million contract line by line. What I learned was that I had a long term deal with no guarantees for the remaining eight years. After my injury in 2005, the contract became an important issue that had to be dealt with. It took a trade to Miami and nearly 18 months to get out from under that contract.
My approach now is that I am looking for a relationship with a team that is based on mutual respect. I am willing to put on my suit when it comes to business and exchange it for an NFL uniform when it is time to play the game. I am not suggesting that this is the right approach for every player. I am only saying that it is what works best for me at this point in my career. I would only hope that teams would not keep me from working because of my approach to the business side of the game.
Secondly, I want to clear up the misinformation regarding my desire to only be a starter. I would think that every QB in this league wants to start. However, contrary to popular belief, I know how to play my role. I set out this free agency period with three categories that I wanted to explore.
1. Teams that were looking for a starter
2. Teams that were open for QB competition
3. Teams that needed a veteran back-up
With the help of the NFLPA, I researched what the market value was for each category. I contacted 14 teams that fell into these categories. Unfortunately, I did not receive any real interest from the teams I contacted. When the Packers finally offered for me to come to Green Bay to back-up Aaron Rodgers there were no real negotiations. They offered me a deal that was, according to my research, below market value. They said that they would get back to me after the draft.
When the beginning of training camp came and there was still no interest, I reached out to Commissioner Goodell to see if he had any suggestions. He asked Ray Anderson to check around the league and get back to me. Ray told me three things based on his discussions with teams. First of all he said that I should get an agent because teams were not comfortable dealing with me without one. The second thing he told me was that I should be ready to accept the vet minimum and start my career over. The third thing he said was that I would only have an opportunity if someone got hurt. This is why I went to Pittsburgh to work out for the team after Charlie got hurt, so I could see if what Ray Anderson said was true. After a great workout, I was offered the vet minimum with no negotiations. This is when I realized that there is something wrong.
For the sake of clarity, I never told anyone in Pittsburgh that I wanted to compete with Ben Rothlisberger for his job. This is an example of misrepresentation or misinformation.
Recently the Commissioner called to let me know that I was on the top of the list for a job if a key veteran got hurt. I really appreciate the Commissioner’s help, but I hate that I have to wait for a fellow QB to experience the misfortune of an injury in order for me to have an opportunity to continue my career. Why was I not given the chance to compete for a job? This is my question to the NFL. The answer seems to point to something that I choose not to embrace at this time. So instead, I will continue to believe for the best and prepare for the worst.
In the meantime my request is simply that teams give me the respect of talking directly to me rather than trying to interpret what I think or desire. I can handle the truth if they can handle my presence in discussions. I hope that my body of work in the league will earn me at least a conversation.