A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
An Open Letter To The NFL
NOTE: On Thursday, free-agent quarterback Daunte Culpepper, a nine-year veteran whose 110.9 passer rating in 2004 ranks fifth on the all-time single season list, sent an open letter to the NFL, which was posted exclusively on www.ProFootballTalk.com . The following is the complete, unedited text of Daunte’s follow-up, in which he announces his retirement from the National Football League.NEW YORK — When Free agency began this year, I had a new sense of excitement about continuing to rebuild my career in the same way that I had rebuilt my knee after my catastrophic injury in 2005.
Unfortunately, what I found out was that the league did not share any of the optimism about me as an Unrestricted Free Agent that I expected. In fact, there was an overwhelming sense that there was no room for me among this year’s group of quarterbacks; whether in a starting, competing or a back-up role.
No matter what I did or said, there seemed to be a unified message from teams that I was not welcome to compete for one of the many jobs that were available at the quarterback position. It seems that the stance I took in both Minnesota and Miami regarding my rights as a person and player has followed me into Free Agency.
After taking a long look at my career and my personal convictions, I have decided to begin early retirement from the NFL effective immediately. Since the beginning of training camp I was told that my opportunity would come when a quarterback gets hurt.
I cannot remember the last time so many QB’s have been injured during the preseason. I have been strongly encouraged from family, friends and league personnel to continue to be patient and wait for an inevitable injury to one of the starting quarterbacks in the league.
I would rather shut the door to such “opportunity” than continue to wait for one of my fellow quarterback’s to suffer a serious injury. Since I was not given a fair chance to come in and compete for a job, I would rather move on and win in other arenas of life.
The decision I made in 2006 to represent myself rather than hire an agent has been an invaluable experience. I now understand why so many people within the NFL community are uncomfortable with a player really learning the business.
The NFL has become more about power, money and control than passion, competition and the love of the game. Regardless of this shift, player’s rights are still supposed to be a part of this league.
Since I will not be given the opportunity to honor the memory of Gene Upshaw by wearing a patch on my uniform this year, I will instead spend some of my energy applying what he taught me about standing up for what is right and not sitting down for what is clearly wrong.
I want to thank my family and my fans for their unwavering belief in me as a person and a player. I embraced both the peaks and the valleys of the game and my career.
I am a better person today as a direct result of the experience of playing in the NFL. I can now focus on the enjoyment of watching some of the greatest athletes in the world play the game I love without the distraction of waiting for those elusive return phone calls.
Thankfully, Daunte Culpepper.