There's been lots of chatter about the Vikings problems over the last 3 games. Much of the talk has centered around whether Daunte is to blame for the Vikes woes. I may think such talk is ridiculous but others are convinced that the man is "dumb" or has been unwilling/unable to run with the ball when the opportunity presents itself.One of the reporters in town, Pat Reusse, thinks much of this criticism is thinly veiled racism. I'm not about to defend his comments but I thought some of you folks may enjoy the read and some discussion.Anyway, here's the goods on the topic from Minneapolis' leading fish-wrap - the StarTribune.com:
Bulletin for the Daunte Culpepper haters:You are either idiots or you are racists, which often is the same thing.There is a difference between the actual fans of this team who suffer momentary frustration when the quarterback fails on a chance to convert a third down, and the guy in your circle of football pals who shouts incessantly that Culpepper is a "dumb" quarterback."If I showed you a couple of letters I've gotten, you would die," coach Mike Tice said. "There was one so bad last season that I turned it over to league security. I got another one from the same guy this year -- unsigned, of course, but I could tell by the scrawl that it was him."Most of the Culpepper-bashing correspondence Tice receives is not as blatantly racist. It comes with "dumb" and other code words popular among those bar jacket-wearing rednecks who use the telecast of a Vikings game as an excuse to drink in the daytime.You probably know in your heart which group you belong, idiot or racist/idiot, but here's the test: If you in any way found yourself blaming Culpepper for Sunday's loss in San Diego, then you are in the second group.It also means that no matter your religious background -- Catholic, Protestant, Judaism, Muslim -- you should take a half-hour to read Archbishop Harry Flynn's manifesto on racism in Minnesota. Fact is, I'm somewhat suspicious that Flynn decided to issue this paper after being with a group of Vikings fans when Culpepper threw an interception near the end of the Giants' game.Culpepper was 32-for-44 for 370 yards and four touchdowns Sunday in San Diego. The lone interception came late, when he had to make a throw, and when he didn't have the benefit of a woozy Randy Moss being in the pattern.Culpepper's quarterback rating for the season is 107.1, second only to Tennessee's Steve McNair among NFL starters.Culpepper threw 23 interceptions and lost nine fumbles last season. He had another 15 fumbles that were not lost. He has three interceptions and three lost fumbles (out of six total) in 6 1/2 games this season.Culpepper said Wednesday he put much focus on reducing turnovers entering this season. He has done that and at the same time maintained exceptional productivity. Even with those 2 1/2 games missed, he will approach 3,500 passing yards. He has 15 touchdown passes and will fly past his subpar total of 18 last season.Asked if Culpepper rated among the most improved Vikings, Tice said: "I think based on last season, yes . . . He's playing smart football. They don't hand out 107 quarterback ratings because you have a great smile. They hand them out because you're not turning the ball over, you're not doing the things that hurt your team."There have been some throws I'm sure he wished he could make, but every single quarterback has throws he wished he could make."The difference between what's happening in Minnesota in 2003 and elsewhere is that not every single highly-productive quarterback who mixes in a couple of bad throws has a cult of crazed critics.The people not willing to see the tinge of racism in these irrational attacks on Culpepper will say this: Quarterbacks are always at the eye of the storm.Perhaps, but no Vikings' quarterback has ever played with the proficiency with which Culpepper has played this season and suffered such relentless abuse from the public.The Purple Faithful gave Tommy Kramer absolution through several seasons of inconsistent play. When the fans finally turned on him, it was never with the venom Culpepper has faced.We have had starting quarterbacks who were black around here previously, in Warren Moon and Randall Cunningham. Both were late in their careers and played very well. They did not face as much abuse as Culpepper, although we can remember how quick the Purple Faithful was to call for Brad Johnson and Jeff George as their replacements.Apparently, Culpepper brings an even greater problem for Minnesota's rednecks. He's a young man (27 next January) who figures to be at the helm of the Vikings for another decade.Live with it. Better yet, celebrate it.Culpepper's going to win a Super Bowl before he's done. There's every reason for it to happen while he's still wearing Purple.