BEST VIKINGS PLAYER - 2005
As usual, the 2004 incarnation of the Minnesota Vikings failed to meet the high expectations established by a jackrabbit start. After opening 6-1, the team finished with a mediocre 8-8 regular season record. For several years, the late autumn swoon has been the curse of the Vikings. Maybe that explains the relative dearth of fan accolades for Daunte Culpepper, who is arguably the second-best quarterback in the NFL. Last season's numbers tell the story. Pep threw an astounding 39 TD passes, amassed 4,717 yards through the air, completed 69 percent of his passes, and finished the season with a magnificent QB rating of 110.9 (fourth-best in league history). He accomplished all this despite myriad handicaps: a cheap owner, a meathead head coach, and a wretched, collapse-prone defense. Throughout the season, Culpepper--unlike pretty much everyone else on the team--was relatively consistent in his play. Still, when the team skulked into the postseason as a road wild card, everyone expected a quick exit. So what did Culpepper do? He swaggered into hostile Lambeau, threw four touchdown passes, zero interceptions, and led the Vikings to a rare postseason victory. From a fan's perspective, the victory was arguably the most satisfying win since the Jerry Burns era. Yet, if you spent the season listening to much sports radio, all too often you heard the besotted fan crying out for the need to promote (now departed) journeyman Gus Frerotte to the starting role. The explanation for this? An astonishing percentage of Minnesota sports fans are morons, racists, or both.