Culpepper Gets Public Sacking

By David Hyde
Updated: June 9, 2007

MIAMI GARDENS — This was embarrassing. There’s no other way to put it. Embarrassing for a Dolphins’ organization that tries to do things first-class. Embarrassing for new coach Cam Cameron, who preaches family and team. Embarrassing for Daunte Culpepper, no matter what you think of him. It was embarrassing just to watch it play out Friday in the same manner it would be to see the Bearded Lady shoved out of the big top. An hour into a minicamp workout, quarterbacks coach Terry Shea told Culpepper that was it, he was done practicing in mid-practice. And thus done as a Dolphin, period. For a time there, for just a few Culpepper steps off the practice field, there was the chance this was something more than another lesson in the NFL’s Rule No. 1 for rookies like Ted Ginn Jr. and John Beck. That’s all it became, of course. That’s what this entire past week has been, starting with Trent Green being treated and ultimately traded by Kansas City like a slice of salami to the Dolphins. But as Culpepper said something, arms waving, to trainer Kevin O’Neill and then was accompanied off the field by team security chief Stu Weinstein, the thought rippled that he had been traded. Or re-injured? Or quit? What? Instead, it was just Rule No. 1 at extreme work: A star is worth keeping only as long as he plays, wins and fills seats. Culpepper doesn’t fit any of those criteria, no matter how many times he’ll tell you he’s an “elite quarterback when healthy.” He hasn’t been healthy. He isn’t elite right now. And everyone knew he was leaving town long before Green arrived for this minicamp.

But did he have to be put through what happened Friday? Couldn’t it have been handled in a better manner? Why not just release Culpepper, considering the one card he does hold is the ability to block trades and hasn’t been shy about telling everyone?

And what do you get if you do hold onto him for the coming days or weeks — a seventh-round pick? Is that endgame worth this grief?

For that matter, was holding up Green’s arrival for a month worth hoping a fifth-round pick would be enough rather than a fourth round?

Look, I’m in the minority here: I like General Manager Randy Mueller’s offseason gameplan. I understand why Cameron needs his own guy at quarterback. I thought it logical what the Dolphins did on draft day considering what this team needs and how it rated Ginn, Beck and would-be savior Brady Quinn.

But Culpepper’s story is similar to Green’s saga in Kansas City. The only way Green agreed to re-structure his hefty contract was in a Dolphins’ trade. That had the desired effect of scaring off every other team.

Trying to be his own agent for some reason, Culpepper is playing the same card. He knows no team wants his oversized contract and suspect knee. So he has refused to restructure the deal, understandably wanting to be released and pick his own team.

That’s all he controls now. Well, that and his revisionist take on history. Now he considers it Nick Saban’s fault for playing his knee too early. The truth is, Culpepper fought so hard to play from the start that Saban feared losing him mentally if he ordered him to the bench.

Of all things Saban’s guilty of here, this isn’t one of them.

Likewise, Cameron and Mueller have been transparent on Culpepper’s non-future here without saying so. You had to be an idiot not to realize they wanted nothing to do with him. Or you had to be Culpepper, who now says he was lied to about being given the chance to compete at quarterback.

All that said, Friday’s scene was less on Culpepper than the Dolphins. It was embarrassing from any angle. Let’s hope this doesn’t go on for weeks.

Just free Daunte. Free everyone from dealing with this anymore.