WHEN DaunteCulpepper announced his retirement last Thursday in an e-mail to the media, hesaid he wouldn't be the kind of ex-quarterback who sits around waiting for oneof his peers to get hurt. With more than a hint of bitterness, he wrote thatit's time to "move on and win in other arenas of life" because he"was not given a fair chance to ... compete for a [starting] job." Thestatement was greeted with even more skepticism than Brett Favre's tearygoing-away in March. "I don't know if he's really, really retired,"said one team executive. "If somebody called at midseason and said, 'We'vegot a job for you,' he'd be all over it." Added another front-officefigure, "He'd be on the next plane."
The fact is, theperson most responsible for Culpepper's joblessness is Culpepper himself. Theformer Central Florida star spent the offseason acting as if he were still thebreathtaking blend of size (6'4", 265), arm strength and athleticism thatthe Vikings drafted 11th overall in 1999 and who threw for 33 touchdowns whileleading Minnesota to the 2000 NFC Championship Game. In reality, he is anoften-injured 31-year-old who started 17 of a possible 48 games the past threeseasons for three teams. "That knee injury [in 2005 and a second surgery in'06] really wrecked him," said one pro personnel director. "He stillhas that big-time arm, but he doesn't move the same."
Culpepper'sunwillingness to be a second-stringer was a problem. The Packers and theSteelers talked to him but backed off when Culpepper said he wanted to competefor a top job and be paid as a starter. (Culpepper made $3.2 million lastseason with the Raiders.) He recently said he was willing to sign with GreenBay as a backup, but by then the Packers had committed to two rookie draftchoices.
Culpepper'smisreading of the market suggests that he made a mistake by deciding threeyears ago to act as his own agent. Still, he may get another chance. Saysanother team executive, "If Vinny Testaverde can get a job, I promise youwhen somebody loses one or two quarterbacks, they will reach out tohim."
The Pop CultureGrid
How do sports stars fit in?
People say I look like ...
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Pet I'd like to own
Sarah Palin should ...
PAUL BYRD Red Sox P
Take me fishing in Alaska
CLETIS GORDON Chargers CB
I like my name. I wouldn't change it
RASHARD MENDENHALL Steelers RB
I sucked my thumb until junior high
Heim, my nickname in college
I don't know who that is
MARK REYNOLDS D-Backs 3B
Dill pickle flavored sunflower seeds
Make John McCain lower taxes
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Consecutive sellouts at Fenway Park through Monday, breaking the record of 455straight set by the Indians from 1995 to 2001.
Value of jewelry that boxer Floyd Mayweather says he lost when his Las Vegashome was burglarized on Aug. 17.
Success rate of player replay challenges to line calls at the U.S. Open throughlast Saturday.
Roger Federer's success rate; he challenged an Open-high 25 calls in his firstsix matches.
Price for a pair of seats from the soon-to-be-demolished Shea Stadium; the Metsput 16,000 pairs up for sale on Aug. 25
Days it took the orange field-level and blue loge seats available to sellout.
Attendance for Michigan's win over Miami of Ohio, the smallest crowd atMichigan Stadium since it was expanded in 1998.
Difference, in inches, in the heights of L.A. Sparks guard Shannon Bobbitt(5'2") and new teammate Margo Dydek (7'2"), the shortest and tallestWNBA players ever.
JOHN BIEVER (CULPEPPER ACTION)
PURPLE PRO In his prime Culpepper was one of the NFL's most athletic QBs.
MEDIOIMAGES/GETTY IMAGES (ORANGUTAN)
RICHARD MACKSON (BIRD)
LAWRENCE MANNING/CORBIS (PANTHER)
LUCASFILM, LTD. & TM/AP (SKYWALKER)
PAUL CONNORS/AP (REYNOLDS)
DAN MACMEDAN/WIREIMAGE/GETTY IMAGES (SNIPES)
GEORGE GOJKOVICH/GETTY IMAGES (MENDENHALL)
BRUCE GIFFORD/FILMMAGIC/GETTY IMAGES (CANNON)
GETTY IMAGES (GORDON)
STEVE GRANITZ/WIREIMAGE/GETTY IMAGES (GRAMMER)
JIM ROGASH/GETTY IMAGES (BYRD)
GREG TROTT/GETTY IMAGES (CULPEPPER)