NFC North: Dr. James Andrews
Thanks to the Carolina Panthers' public relations department, we got our hands on the transcript of Daunte Culpepper's conference call with local reporters. Culpepper has talked about some of these issues before, but I found this interview to be probably the most illuminating and encompassing discussion he's had about the direction of his career over the past three years.
If you follow Culpepper now as a Lions fan or rooted for him in Minnesota, I think you'll find a lot of what he said pretty interesting. We've knocked him around a bit on this blog, so let's let him have his say now.
Here are the extended highlights:
On the decision-making progress of coming back and ending up in Detroit:
Daunte Culpepper: When I decided to retire it was a difficult time because obviously I wanted to play. I felt that I was a guy that was young enough and still had the capabilities of playing the game of football at a high level. When I decided to retire it was kind of tough, but believe it or not, I started to get a lot of phone calls. Before I said I was retiring my phone wasn't ringing too much. But once I retired, for whatever reason, I was getting the phone calls.
I began to obviously entertain those phone calls. I had other opportunities I could play some other places. I felt that this situation was a really good one. Obviously I wanted to go into a situation where I could compete to play. I felt that this was the best situation for me at the time.
On any significance of coming back to Carolina after the 2005 injury:
DC: Me getting hurt, a lot of people look at it like it was such a bad thing. Obviously no one wants to get hurt because of the pain and the hard road to recovery, but as far as me as a person and as a player, I think I had the chance to really sit back and look at everything and look at the big picture. I took the positive out of it and said, 'Hey, I have a chance now, I' m injured and its going to be a while before I get back on the field. I had to straighten out some other things in my life and I think it helped me in the long run. With that being said it wasn't all negative as far as my injury.
Like I said no one wants to get hurt. It's tough, it's painful and rehab is excruciating. I like to take positives out of every situation that I can. I think I was able to really take a step back and look at everything and look at the big picture.
On if his injury -- three of the four knee ligaments were torn -- took more than a year to get back 100 percent physically:
DC: Yes. The day before Dr. [James] Andrews did the surgery he was like, 'Hey it's probably going to be two years before you're able to get back on the field and play. I accepted that. Long story short, I was back on the field in about eight months after the surgery. I think that was kind of crazy in the sense that I was told two years, but I was feeling good and my leg recovered very well, faster than anybody thought.
For me to get back in eight months and be playing the next season was huge, but I wasn't really myself. I really didn't understand what the doctor was saying. He really meant I wouldn't be myself for two years. With that being said, if I could go back and do it all over I probably would have took a little bit more time before I got back on the field. But hey, things happen and you have to move forward.
On if there was a moment he wondered if he was ever going to come back:
DC: I am a competitor. If there is a chance that I can do something I feel I can do it. No matter if it's just a one percent chance. I have always been the type of person that I feel if I have a little, slight chance to be successful in something, I feel I can do what I have to do to be successful. When he told me two years, I said I am going to do what I can and get back on the field; hopefully it will be before that. If it would have taken two years, I still would have had the same mindset to get out and try to play football.
On if he or the Dolphins hurried him along too quickly from the injury:
DC: I really put it on myself. I was feeling good, but that's different from being out there in the game and having to make a quick move, a quick step up or a quick step back. There's a difference when you do it in practice. Just the speed of the game was different for me and my knee just wasn't ready for that. I can't blame the Dolphins and I can't blame myself. I think both sides were optimistic about it and obviously I was very optimistic about it. Like I said, if I could do it over I probably would have waited.
On how much work he has had to do away from the practice field the last eight days to study and get up to speed on the Lions system:
DC: Every day. After we get done here I am meeting with my quarterback coach and going over extra things just to get that foundation there. The first couple of days, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of last week it was really kind of like a cram course. I was cramming a lot and getting a lot of information. I was kind of just trying to be a sponge and take it all in, take good notes and try to take it onto the football field.
On any significance on coming back to Carolina, where he was injured three years ago:
DC: Obviously it's in my mind. I look at it like this, I am going there to play and do what I love to do, and that's play the game of football at a high level. Actually we came back there the next year, it was a preseason game, but it's the regular season now. I look at it just like any other game, I am trying to go out there and play the game and do what it takes for us to come out on top.
On what good as come from the things he has worked on both on and off the field:
DC: Obviously there are some personal things that I had to take care of that I don't really talk about a whole lot as far as the business side of myself and what I do. I think that is really what helped me out a lot. I started representing myself at that time and I think it has helped me.
On representing himself and how it is going:
DC: I think it is going very well. I made the decision because I felt that it is what I wanted to do at that time at that point in my career. That is how I set myself up, to handle my own business all around the board.
On other agents contacting him:
DC: Tons of them. I tell them thank you, and I feel I have everything under control.
On negotiating contracts with the team showing another side of football:
DC: It does show you a little bit of the other side of the game. For me it was good because I feel like I can handle it. I don't know if a lot of players would do it or if anybody else would do it, it's not really my concern. I am really just concerned with myself and taking care of my own personal business. That's why I moved in that direction.
On recommending self representation to other players:
DC: Honestly I can't recommend that to other guys, to each his own. I'm not going to say that guys should or shouldn't. I don't promot
e that at all. I just talk about myself and what I feel I should do for myself.