HONOLULU (AP) -- More than 131 million people watched the Super Bowl on television, with another 72,000 in the stadium. Daunte Culpepper wasn't among them.
The Minnesota Vikings' quarterback says it will stay that way until he plays for the NFL title himself.
"I'm not going until I'm playing," said Culpepper, whose team fell one win short of meeting the Baltimore Ravens in last Sunday's championship game. "I promised myself that in my rookie year."
Culpepper spent the week leading up to the Super Bowl in Tampa, Fla., but left a day before the game to go home to nearby Ocala, where he passed for 6,107 yards and 57 touchdowns in three seasons at Vanguard High before attending Central Florida.
The 11th overall selection in the 1999 NFL draft, Culpepper played briefly in one game as a Vikings rookie, but was given the job this season and made the most of it, passing for 3,937 yards and 33 touchdowns and being selected as the NFC's starting quarterback in Sunday's Pro Bowl.
"I knew I had the ability to make plays," Culpepper said. "With the team we had, I thought I was a good fit, I knew the system. My main goal was to get out there, gain the respect of my teammates, show them I could do the job."
It's difficult to imagine the 6-foot-4, 266-pounder playing better than he did until Jan. 14, when the Vikings were blanked 41-0 by the New York Giants in the NFC championship game. He completed only 13 of 28 passes for 78 yards that day.
"That's the first time in my career that's happened to me, I had never been on any team that was shut out at any level," Culpepper said. "That was the first time, I hope that's the last time."
Despite the crushing nature of the loss, Culpepper said he was over it 24 hours later.
"Life goes on," he said. "They just outplayed us that day. No excuses. We'll be back. You've got to let it go."
Minnesota receiver Randy Moss, who is sitting out the Pro Bowl because of bruised ribs, said after the loss to the Giants that he would win a Super Bowl ring someday, but doubted it would be with the Vikings.
"If he feels that way, that's the way he feels," Culpepper said. "Randy and I are close friends. I don't think he meant it, I think he was blowing off steam. I think he'll be with us for a while."
And so will Cris Carter, the Vikings' other standout receiver, who announced last week he'll play at least one more season.
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