That Infernal Daunte

I used to say there are only three things in life which I take seriously; my faith in God, the love of my family and friends, and Miami Dolphins football.  Following a 0 – 4 start by my Fins to the 2007 season, not to mention their recent history of mediocrity, the key to my opening sentence is ‘used to say’.  I’m still a fan and I am sure I will still subject myself to the weekly torture of watching them be one of the worst teams in the NFL, but I am also sure it will be done with abject reservation of real emotion.

Following a loss, I am usually grumpy and crabby and looking to replace some piece of furniture I keep telling my girlfriend I ‘accidentally’ broke, but not today.  Today’s loss to the historically hated Raiders – Stabler’s knee was down – is somewhat bittersweet.  Prior to the game, I sat down in front of my computer to get caught up on the season premier of ‘My Name is Earl’ which I forgot to record.  So it’s only appropriate then that Karma made an appearance in this game between Oakland and Miami.

Let me take you back to the beginning of LAST season, when the Dolphins had acquired Daunte Culpepper from the Vikings following his recovery from a devastating knee injury.  There was a buzz about Daunte’s ability to throw the ball downfield, to use his size to power through linebackers, and assuming his knee was recovered, bring Miami back into the ranks of a winning franchise.  He was rushed into the starting position and ended up having a miserable 4 games to start the season.  The organization blamed Culpepper’s knee, labeled him a has-been, placed him on injured-reserved, and Culpepper never played another game for the Dolphins.

Then came the fiasco with Nick Saban bolting to Alabama, Cam Cameron being named the new head coach of the Fins, Trent Green being picked up in a trade with the Chiefs and Daunte Culpepper being unceremoniously and disgracefully escorted from the Dolphins training facility by security.  Just like that, the player who was supposed to be the savior of the franchise, the next great Miami quarterback after Griese and Marino, was just dropped like a bad habit.  For a kid who grew up in Ocala a Dol-fan, dreaming of playing in aqua and coral, it was a slap in the face.

So as the clock ticked down on a 35-17 loss, there was a wry smile to my face.  It wasn’t just because my Marlins were beating the Mets and crushing their hopes for the post-season, but also because the Raiders owed their win to a kid from Ocala who was supposed to be a has-been quarterback.  The fact Daunte Culpepper was even playing for the Raiders to begin with is a cosmic event in and of itself.

In a nutshell, the Raiders drafted quarterback Jamarcus Russell in April with the first overall pick. Russell held out until September for a better contract deal, and signed only after the Raiders acquired Culpepper as a free agent.  Josh McCown was named the starter for the Raiders but suffered an injury in week three.   So there was Culpepper ready to start at quarterback against the team that treated him with absolutely no class just two months ago.

Duante completed only five passes on Sunday, but two of those were for touchdowns.  More importantly, the has-been kid ran – yes RAN – for three scores against the Dolphins.  Following his second rushing touchdown, Daunte pointed to his surgically reconstructed knee and then gave the Dolphins Stadium crowd an ‘OK’ symbol.  OK as in “Who’s a has-been now?”  OK as in “Where’s your security escort now?” OK as in “Oh Karma!”

I guess I will still take Dolphins losses to heart, but this particular loss is OK with me.


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