Daunte Culpepper or “Mr. Football” as he is known in Florida, is hands down one of the greatest NFL Quarterbacks to ever throw on a field! Topping numerous lists for completed Passing Percentage and passing touchdowns, Daunte’s accomplishments span from High-school to the NCAA and beyond to the Ultimate Football League and the NFL. A three time pro-bowler and veteran quarterback for the University of Central Florida, Daunte’s list of accomplishments just keeps growing the farther ahead you look in his career. By 2001 Daunte had grabbed starting QB position for the Minnesota Vikings and by 2004, managed to set the single season passing record for the NFL which has since been broken.
Culpepper’s Season Ending Injury
By next season Culpepper suffered the most serious injury of his career by damaging his knee leaving him unable to play for the entire season. This proved to be the final phase of his Vikings career and over the next four years would play for a short list of other teams across the divisions including the Oakland Raiders, Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins.
Culpepper still holds 7th best single season passer rating for his 2004 season and still ranks 14th in the all time Career Passer Rating for the NFL. While these are some hefty accomplishments, off the field Daunte is known for his charitable nature and willingness to give to the less fortunate. Especially with the African American Adoption Project or the AAAA, to which he has made numerous appearances with off the field and contributed a hefty amount of time and finances into the growing project. Daunte is also one of the star patrons of the AAAA Celebrity Golf Tournament fundraiser which is one of the main sources of income and awareness for the non-profit group.
The AAAA’s goal is to help move children of color who are unfortunate enough to not have their own family in the greater Minnesota area into stable homes where they can be loved and cared for and feel what it’s like like to have a family of their own.
From Foster Care to Football Player
Daunte may have lived an American Dream in his adult years, but his early life was anything but. Born by single mother and sister to famous football player Thomas “Holywood” Henderson, Barbara Henderson, Daunte was born into conditions that are far from normal. While pregnant, his mother was serving time in a Florida correctional facility for charges of armed robbery. After only a day old, he was adopted by Emma Lewis Culpepper who was an employee at the time for the same correctional facility where his mother was being held. Daunte was one of more than 15 children that Emma had adopted from the correctional facility and for young Daunte, this was the best possible option. At the time Foster care wasn’t necessarily an enviable option for children. Foster care homes were described as “Cruel” and stories of children abused and mistreated ran rampant throughout all communities.
But in this case it seemed foster care proved to be the miracle that helped Daunte become who he was meant to be. While many cannot fathom why others would willingly give up their own children, it’s a decision that is best left to the mother and the mother alone. Sometimes, like in Daunte’s case, Foster care proved to be a saving grace. While Daunte was put in a situation that causes many to revert backwards, the love of Emma proved to be the catalyst to let him live his life the way he wanted.
Daunte would go on to attend high-school in the same area and from there the rest is history. Culpepper even uses a call a referee made on his very last game of high-school basketball (A traveling call) as his signature touchdown dance which he nicknamed “The Roll”, symbolizing it was his childhood that got him where he was today.
Without the option of foster care, Daunte Culpepper would have never become the NFL legend he is today, furthermore without the love of Emma Culpepper, who knows what would have happened!