As the 2011 NFL season approaches its end, and as a number of starting quarterbacks have managed to land on team injury reports, I decided to reach out to a man whom I’ve worked with on two previous occasions.
Three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Daunte Culpepper is still an available free agent, and I wanted to get his thoughts regarding his current availability to NFL teams, what he has been doing to stay in shape all season long and what his future goals are with respect to his professional football career.
Many people have forgotten that it is actually Culpepper who still holds the NFL record for most combined yardage ever produced by a quarterback in a single season (5,123 in 2004). It will be interesting to see if Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, or Eli Manning manage to eclipse that figure this season.
Daunte and I spoke via email and he was, as always, happy to catch up on what he’s been up to this season.
Ryan: With three weeks remaining in the 2011 NFL season and with a number of starting quarterbacks finding their ways onto team injury reports, what is your current availability with respect to teams that may be looking for an experienced, game-ready quarterback?
Daunte: I feel for the guys who have been hurt and really do not like to have my opportunity be dependent on the misfortune of a fellow quarterback. On the other hand, with at least seven starting quarterbacks lost for the year, there is no way that my agent or I could imagine that I would not have been signed by a team by now.
I am still open to joining a team this season if I am needed. It seems that I have to accept the reality that the window of opportunity is just about closed for this season.
Ryan: Would you ever consider a mentoring role to help ease the transition into the NFL for any younger quarterbacks who have already been forced into the limelight?
Daunte: I actually offered to play the role of mentor going into this season for a few teams that were going with a rookie. Unfortunately, those teams did not see me in that role at this point in my career. At the same time, they didn’t want to bring me in to compete to start.
Maybe in light of what we have seen this year in terms of a lack of game-ready backup quarterbacks, there may be some reconsideration on giving me an opportunity in the future.
Ryan: How much would it mean to you to have the opportunity to play for a team that appreciates your passion, dedication and enthusiasm for the sport of professional football?
Daunte: I would welcome the chance to continue my career on a team that would appreciate who I am as a person and as a player.
Ryan: What has been your physical conditioning regimen and how have you managed to stay in game-ready shape during the course of the 2011 NFL season?
Daunte: I am presently working out on a regular basis and keeping myself in shape. Unfortunately, I have spent a lot of time preparing without an opportunity to show teams what I can do.
Ryan: At 34 years old, you're still younger then a number of starting quarterbacks in the NFL. Would you be open to the possibility of a return in 2012 as well?
Daunte: To be honest, I think because of my early success and longevity in the league, I am seen as one of the older guys trying to get back in the league even though I am only 34. My preference would be to sign with a team now so that I can settle in for 2012. If that doesn’t happen soon, I will take some time to evaluate whether I have a future in the NFL.
At the conclusion of my third interview with Daunte, I continued to be even more impressed with how passionate this man is for the sport of professional football. If given an opportunity to contribute to an NFL team this season, I’m confident that his fellow players will also find his enthusiasm to be contagious.
As both a writer and as a fan, I would like to thank Daunte for taking the time to work with me, and I wish him the absolute best with all of his future career endeavors.
Ryan Michael is a Senior Writer for Bleacher Report: Any questions, comments, or professional inquiries can be directed to his email at firstname.lastname@example.org.