Daunte Culpepper is a perfect fit for the Lions. The Sacramento Lions, that is.
The three-time Pro Bowler signed a contract Monday to rejoin former coach Dennis Green — who guided a young Culpepper to the NFC championship — in the United Football League.
A UFL championship wouldn’t quench the former Viking’s desire for an elusive Super Bowl, but time away from the rigid pace of pro-style football will be good for a gunslinger like Culpepper.
Take Kurt Warner, Doug Flutie, Trent Green and Warren Moon. All of them were signal-callers who were rejected from the NFL, and then made it back and aired it out.
Green, Warner and Moon are part of an exclusive group of 10 NFL quarterbacks who have thrown for over 4,000 yards three times in their career. None of them tallied 4,000 yards before their time outside the NFL, and only Warner pulled it off before age 30.
But how does running roughshod over the shortened fields (XFL, AFL) and shrunken defenses of an alternate league equate to improvement?
Warner and company gained a feel for the offense — and built confidence — in a quicker game where the emphasis was on pushing the envelope rather than avoiding mistakes. He clicked, and developed a style of play that suited his skill set.
Quick release. Good vision. The greatest show on turf.
Culpepper must have snuck a peak at the blueprint.
Not only is Green on board as the Lions’ coach, Culpepper’s former head coach at the University of Central Florida — Mike Kruczek — is the offensive coordinator.
After a scathing three years with the Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders, Culpepper could use some home cooking.
“I am also excited to be reunited with my college coach Mike Kruczek as the offensive coordinator,” Culpepper told Our Sports Central. “I am expecting to have a lot of fun running a wide-open offense and being a part of the United Football League. California, here I come!”
Culpepper will have difficult time matching the fun of his rookie season in Minnesota — 3,937 yards, 33 touchdowns and 16 interceptions — when Green’s three-receiver offense called for routine bombs downfield. In 2004, the same scheme produced a career year, as Culpepper threw for 4,717, 39 TDs and just 11 picks.
The men who molded Culpepper to his peak will have ample time to work with him at the high school stadium the Lions call their practice field.
And they may just win a championship while they’re at it.