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Larry Felser

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Daunte Culpepper’s day is dawning
The Fox TV broadcasters didn’t seem to get it until the Vikings-Packers game was 80 percent over, but there’s a new king of the quarterbacks in the Great North.

In my view, Brett Favre is one of the five greatest quarterbacks of all time (Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, Otto Graham and John Elway being the others). I hate the description “he’s a slam dunk to make the Hall of Fame,” but the truth is that Favre is a slam-dunk to make the Hall of Fame. He stands with Bobby Layne as one of the greatest charismatic leader-quarterbacks ever.

But Favre’s day is fading. Daunte Culpepper’s day is dawning.

Culpepper was Hall-of-Fame magnificent Sunday as Minnesota swept past the Pack toward a date with the Philadelphia Eagles. Culpepper threw four touchdown passes, piled up a ton of yardage and for the fifth time in 11 games led his team in rushing.

So what were football fans across the nation talking about this week? Randy Moss’ gross faux “mooning” of the Packer fans. Culpepper, a quarterback who threw for 16 touchdowns and no interceptions in his last four meetings with Green Bay, was upstaged once again by his mega-talented but mega-selfish battery mate.

Moss is a street thug, whom Lou Holtz called “the greatest high school player I ever saw,” but who thugged himself out of a Notre Dame scholarship and then another to Florida State. He lasted two years at Marshall in his home state of West Virginia.

Culpepper is a country kid from rural Virginia, who chose Central Florida over Miami, Florida State and Florida because he wanted to stay closer to home. At the 1999 draft, while quarterback Tim Couch, Cade McNown, and Akili Smith preened, Culpepper quietly hid behind his shyness.

He’s shaken that shyness now. When Moss left the field seconds before the Vikings’ loss to Washington ended two weeks ago, Moss quietly confronted him during the week. “This isn’t about individuals,” he said. “This is about winning championships. Do you want to win championships? That’s a question you have to ask yourself.”

It’s Daunte’s team now, now matter how Moss stains it.

***

Everyone who knows Marty Schottenheimer pulls for him in the playoffs. But how could Schottzy call those three straight into-the-line running plays before trying what was potentially the winning field goal in overtime against the Jets?

The Charger kicker is Nate Kaeding, who had a good rookie year but looked like a 13-year-old seventh grader as he paced up and down awaiting the biggest moment of his career. The try came from 39 yards away.

As I watched I thought, “this is a Norwood moment about to happen.”

The kid needed at least seven or eight yards more aggressive calls might have achieved. Instead the result was “Wide Right” and defeat.

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