Ex-Viking Culpepper: Forget Deflategate, focus on basics

Daunte Culpepper #11 of the Detroit Lions passes during the game against the Chicago Bears on January 3, 2010 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.
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Daunte Culpepper #11 of the Detroit Lions passes during the game against the Chicago Bears on January 3, 2010 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.

All the furor over the New England Patriot's deflategate scandal doesn't mean much to Daunte Culpepper.

The former Minnesota Viking's signal caller and three-time Pro Bowler spent a lot more time during his stellar career worrying about Xs and Os—the way football is drawn up on the blackboard—than he did about pounds per square inch (PSI). The latter issue has the sporting world abuzz over the Patriots use of balls in the playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts that didn't meet the NFL's inflation regulations.

Some of Culpepper's contemporaries, most notably Troy Aikman from the Dallas Cowboys, have sharply criticized the Patriots. Culpepper is not taking the bait, however.

"I just grabbed the first 25 balls that were there," Culpepper told CNBC over lunch at the Westin Diplomat Golf & Tennis Club in Hollywood Florida, just down the highway from his post-football career home in Broward County.

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Asked if he thought the controversy was as big of a deal as it's become on the nation's sports pages, Culpepper said, "Not really," and said he doesn't think the team should be punished. The game is about a lot more than the air in the football, he said.

"It's still all about tackling and blocking and coaching and catching the football," said Culpepper, who took the Vikings to the NFC championship game once, and led the team to a couple of other playoff appearances. "Just the basics of football."

Still, he didn't seem convinced the Patriots could have been completely in the dark, as quarterback Tom Brady has suggested.

"The quarterback and ref checks the balls before the game," he said.

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Glory days over

The former first round NFL draft pick is just a couple days away from his 38th birthday, still in excellent shape and appearing as if he could step out on the field and be effective. For lifelong Vikings fans, he gave many moments to cheer, but a few disappointments as well.

His career sadly was cut short by an injury against the Carolina Panthers in 2005, on a play where his quest to gain a few extra yards led to an injury from which he would never fully recover.

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He spent a few more years as a journeyman playing for the Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders and Miami Dolphins. However, the glory days—like 2004 when he passed for a then-single season record of 5,123 yards—were over.

Nowadays he has a variety of business ventures and is active on the charity circuit. On Sunday, he was at ETF.com's Inside ETFs conference, getting ready for a round of golf with some executives at Highland Capital Management.

He doesn't watch as much football now, but still keeps on tops of things.

As for the Vikings, he's high on their rookie quarterback phenom Teddy Bridgewater, whom he calls "one of the best quarterbacks (out of college) over the last 10 years."

Though he let the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick off easy for the deflategate scandal, he thinks the Super Bowl won't necessarily go their way.

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He expects the Seattle Seahawks to come out on top.

"Anything can happen. But they can run the football and then can stop the run," Culpepper said. "I think it's going to be a great game."

CORRECTION: This version corrected the spelling of Belichick.