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Culpepper Takes Back So-called Gift


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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Daunte Culpepper showed off his scrambling ability Wednesday - in a crowded convention center ballroom.


The Minnesota Vikings quarterback presented a paralyzed high school football player two diamond necklaces worth about $75,000 during an NFL awards ceremony, but then awkwardly asked for them back after it was finished.


The apparent gift prompted a mother to cry, a father to think about buying a safe to store it and Culpepper to find a way out of the mess.


``I'll get him something else,'' Culpepper said sheepishly.


The confusion began at the FedEx ground and air player of the year honors, where finalists Culpepper, Peyton Manning, Shaun Alexander and Curtis Martin were on stage for the announcement.


When the master of ceremonies opened the floor for questions, Jerry Townsend spoke up from his wheelchair in the front row.


``Hey Daunte, can I get some of that ice?'' he said in a low voice, referring to the two sparkling necklaces hanging around Culpepper's neck.


Culpepper jumped up, pulled them off and brought them over to Townsend, a senior defensive back at Jacksonville Episcopal High School who was paralyzed from the neck down while making a tackle in October.


Townsend spent the last four months in various hospitals and was released Wednesday - just in time to go to the Super Bowl event.


After Culpepper put the necklaces around Townsend's neck, his mother started to cry. His father talked about needing to get a safe for the expensive jewelry.


Culpepper, meanwhile, went back to his seat and finished the awards ceremony (Manning won the air award, and Martin won the ground one). After it was over, Culpepper patiently answered dozens of questions while keeping a close eye on his jewelry across the room.


One of the diamond-laced necklaces was the No. 11, Culpepper's jersey number, and the other was a large pepper (for Culpepper).


``Where's that kid at? I've got to get my stuff back,'' Culpepper said.


Culpepper then walked over to the Townsends and asked them to write down their address so he could send them something else. Culpepper wasn't sure what it would be.


BETTIS HONORED: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis was honored Wednesday for the NFL's play of the year, sponsored by Levitra.


Bettis' 10-yard halfback pass to Jerame Tuman, which helped the Steelers beat the New York Jets in Week 14, beat Donovan McNabb's 14-second scramble that was capped with a 60-yard completion to Freddie Mitchell. The results were based on Internet voting.


``I've got to thank the Jets' defense for biting and sucking up and making it work,'' Bettis said. ``That play broke the game open. It was definitely a special moment for us, and for me to be recognized for that is truly an honor.''


Bettis also said he has not decided about retirement, saying he wanted to take some time away from football before making up his mind.


CLOSE RACE: New York Jets running back Curtis Martin, who edged Seattle Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander by 1 yard for the NFL rushing title, said he felt for his colleague.


``I know you have to be mad,'' Martin said at the FedEx ground player of the year ceremony. ``For a running back, the rushing title is like being the heavyweight champion of the world. I won it, but I have to feel for you.''


Alexander, who criticized coach Mike Holmgren's quarterback sneak call in the season finale that may have cost him the rushing title, agreed.


``If you get that close, you always want to win it. It's tough to swallow, but we go on,'' said Alexander, a free agent who added he hopes to remain with the Seahawks, but also said he was ``definitely intrigued by Miami.''


PATRIOTS AT PEBBLE: Pebble Beach will get another dose of ``Patriot Games.''


New England coach Bill Belichick will go from the Super Bowl to the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, thanks to an invitation from the top - Bill Perocchi, the CEO of Pebble Beach Co., a former Boston resident and a huge Patriots fan.


``I invited him out here to play,'' Perocchi said Wednesday. ``And he said he'd love to play.''


It will be the second straight year New England will be well represented at the PGA Tour event. Last year, quarterback Tom Brady was fresh off his MVP performance in the Super Bowl when he played at Pebble.


Belichick and his son stayed with Perocchi last spring during a golf vacation at Pebble Beach. Perocchi said the coach plays off a 16 handicap.


``They invited me, certainly not because of my golf game,'' Belichick said. ``But it will be a thrill to be out there. It's an awesome course and a great event.''


The tournament features celebrity and corporate amateurs playing with professionals the first three rounds at Pebble Beach, Spyglass and Poppy Hills.


Brady can't return this year because of a previous commitment - the Pro Bowl.


CATCHES FOR CHARITY: The construction company that employs Eagles reserve tight end Jeff Thomason is pledging $50,000 to charity for every catch he makes in Sunday's game. The roster replacement for injured starter Chad Lewis was signed after Lewis was hurt in Philadelphia's 27-10 victory over Atlanta in the NFC title game.


Toll Brothers, Inc., of Horsham, Pa., is the major sponsor of a charity event that will benefit the American Cancer Society this year. Company chairman Robert I. Toll said the event raised $450,000 last year.


LAST-MINUTE HEROICS: Philadelphia kicker David Akers admires New England's Adam Vinatieri for delivering winning field goals in two of the last three Super Bowls, but says he's never envisioned himself doing the same.


``I don't do any visualization. I'm kind of a fly-by-my-seat type of guy,'' Akers said.


``I just prepare myself that every kick is a potential game-winner and you've got to go out and make every single kick. If you miss it, you go on. If you make it, you've got to make the next one as well. That's kind of been my philosophy.''


The kickers in Sunday's game are friends who exchanged helmets at the Pro Bowl a couple of years ago.


``I had him put on there: `From the best kicker in the league,''' Akers said. ``He said: `No, people will think I'm a jerk.' I said: `No, it'll be a joke.''

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Straight from the Vikings own beat writer:


Culpepper blindsided by erroneous reporting

February 4, 2005 SUPE0204.DIARY


JACKSONVILLE, FLA. -- This is what happens when there is too much media and not enough stories.


One of the NFL's most genuine and kind players carried out a genuinely kind act Wednesday. And what did Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper get for his thoughtfulness?


National scorn, thanks to an Associated Press reporter who misinterpreted the scene and never bothered to follow up with the key players.


Here's what happened: While participating in a news conference Wednesday, Culpepper fielded an awkward question from a paralyzed 17-year-old boy. "Hey Daunte," said J.T. Townsend. "Can I get some ice?" -- a reference to the $100,000, diamond-encrusted necklace around Culpepper's neck.


With cameras rolling, Culpepper walked over to Townsend and thrilled him by hanging the necklace around his neck. Later, Culpepper sought out Townsend and put the chain back on. At Culpepper's request, Townsend's parents wrote down his address and contact information. Culpepper promised to send him gifts and memorabilia.


We were standing at Culpepper's side when the transaction took place. There was no animosity, no hurt feelings and no accusations of impropriety -- only thank-yous from Townsend, his parents and a doctor nearby.


The AP version of the story, however, in essence painted Culpepper as a spoiled athlete who "sheepishly" took away a gift from a paralyzed teenager once the cameras stopped shooting. Newspapers and Internet sites picked up the story nationally. One problem: Nothing could have been further from the truth.


Anyone who has met Culpepper knows he wears the necklace every day. He has for years. Garish as it might be -- its main ornament is a 6-inch hot pepper -- it carries sentimental and personal value. Since when is anyone -- athlete, actor, politician or average schmoe -- obligated to hand over personal possessions permanently when someone asks? Or should Culpepper have shot down the request and embarrassed Townsend on television?


If that's your story, then the next time someone asks you for your wedding ring or a sweater your grandmother knitted, you better cough it up. Or else find some real news to write about.

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from what I heard Dante is one of the great guys in the NFL. I'm sure he just let the kid ware it for the time being and I'm sure the kid knew it was just a loan. He still is going to hook the kid up with some cool stuff...maybe even his own (slightly smaller) bling. The media always dives in head first before they know whats at the bottom of the pool.

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You know its tough, he probably should have never put the necklaces around the kids neck. If he wantewd to do soemthing nice for him, he could have go tthe name and address without the necklace part. Not saying it was wrong, just an awkward situation.

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Sounds like a NO story..to me.


The kid got to wear his football hero's "cool ice" for a little while, and was thrilled with it.


Media intervens, and it's news worthy of the National Enquirer! :rolleyes:

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