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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
|Kevin Terrell/Getty Images|
|Daunte Culpepper, right, would have been an ideal mentor for JaMarcus Russell, left, this year.|
From reading Daunte Culpepper's letter announcing his retirement, it is clear that he still wants to play in the NFL.
He should still be playing in Oakland. Culpepper's one season as a Raider last year wasn't great, but he was a fairly good fit. Culpepper got along well with JaMarcus Russell last year, and he'd be a good mentor for him this year as Russell takes over as the full-time starter.
Early in the offseason, it looked like Culpepper could be heading back to Oakland, but it never developed. The Raiders re-signed Marques Tuiasosopo. Former starter Andrew Walter had a resurgence in training camp, and he looks like a solid No. 2 quarterback. So, at this point, the Raiders don't feel like they need Culpepper. But he should still be playing in Oakland because it is a logical place for him.
Now that Culpepper has retired, that "great" quarterback class in 1999 is down to one. Of the five first-rounders taken only Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb remains. McNabb and Culpepper are the only first-round quarterbacks taken that year who weren't busts.
Cleveland's Tim Couch, Cincinnati's Akili Smith and Chicago's Cade McNown all struggled mightily. Before the draft, and 1999 quarterback class was being compared to the great quarterback class of 1983 which featured John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino. Not anymore.
Finally, I want to thank Culpepper for being a good guy while I covered him in Minnesota from 2000 until just before his terrific 2004 season. He always had time for the media and was always pleasant.
The Culpepper moment I most remember was at the end of the 2003 season when he was rewarded the Korey Stringer Good Guy award, which is given annually to the Viking who is the most cooperative with the media. The award was named after Stringer, the Pro Bowl right tackle who died of heat exhaustion in 2001. Stringer was very popular among Minnesota players and media.
When he received his award in honor of Stringer, who was very popular among Minnesota players and media before he died of heat exhaustion in 2001, Culpepper teared up and was generally touched by the honor. Culpepper was a nice, thoughtful guy who deserves happiness whether he stays retired or tries to return to the NFL down the road.