Thursday, February 20, 2014

Skoal Vikings (Or sometimes these Quad Jerseys are filled with four good players)!

So I've shown off a few Heads Up Quads now, and I think you guys have a pretty good sense for the randomness of the subjects for these cards in comparison to typical jersey sets.  Instead of this set featuring all stars or semi-stars, it catches great players to terrible players and everything in between, which is one of my favorite aspects of the set.

Every now and then though, one of the cards features four players who were all quite good.  This is one of those cards, and it comes via a simple cash for card transaction on Blowout, featuring four members of the 2002 Vikings:
The front of the card is no slouch, but I'd still call it the less impressive side personally.  We start with Cris Carter, a HOFer whose career included 8 straight Pro Bowl nods along with 1,101 receptions for 13,899 yards and 130 touchdowns.  Easily the best single subject I've covered on one of these cards so far, and I'm sure most of you are aware of his accomplishments so I'll stop there.

The other guy, Michael Bennett (not to be confused with the Seahawk's Michael Bennett) is what brings this side of the card down, even though he was quite the featured back at his time.  I mean heck, in Madden 2004 Bennett is one of the best players in the game, especially because of his 97 speed rating.  After a nice rookie year in 2001, Bennett spent 2002 going absolutely nuts statistically, to the tune of 5.1 yards per carry, 1,296 yards total, and a league longest 85 yard run.  All that helped him get to the Pro Bowl, and the sky seemed the limit for Bennett.  Then, however, the wheels came off.  In 2003 and 2004 Bennett missed 13 games.  Then in 2005 he played in all 16 games but also fumbled 5 times.  The Vikings didn't like the injuries or the fumbles, and so they cut Bennett after 2005.

Kansas City signed Bennett and he spent 11 games of 2006 and 6 in 2007 with the Chiefs, rushing for a combined 252 yards with 3 fumbles.  Mostly due to those fumbles, the Chiefs sent Bennett to the Buccaneers for conditional picks in 2008 and 2009 (it's really hard to track down which picks those were but supposedly they changed hands).  Bennett spent the rest of the season with the Buccos and looked a little better, with 4.6 YPC and two touchdowns in limited action.  However, after just 7 carries in 5 games in 2008, the Buccaneers waived Bennett.  The Chargers claimed him the next day, but Bennett didn't see game action for San Diego until the following season, where he accumulated a lousy 2.8 YPC on 28 carries.  So after the 2009 season the Chargers released Bennett, and it seemed like his career had pretty much come to a close.

That said, there was one more season.  Oakand needed some depth behind Darren McFadden and Michael Bush, and one of those depth guys ended up being Bennett.  He saw very limited action in 2010 (two catches and two carries), but put that all together for 20 yards with no fumbles.  5 YPC and no fumbles...if that could've been his lines more often earlier in his career Bennett could've been great, but instead he was released after 2010 ended and retired.

This side is SUPER well known, though it's weird to cite Daunte Culpepper as the third best guy on a card.  All he did was reach three Pro Bowls in five years as the head of one of the most explosive offenses of all time.  He actually finished his career 14th all time in Passer Rating, which might be quite a bit higher than most other people would place him.  The bad memories, however, come partly due to the other 14th place ranking he has - career fumbles.  That being said, Culpepper's Vikings career did not end until a vicious knee injury in 2005 that causes him to miss the final 9 games.  Culpepper and Vikings ownership dueled during the offseason, and thanks to that acrimony and the injury Minnesota dealt Culpepper to the Dolphins for a 2nd round pick (used on Center Ryan Cook, who spent a few years in Minnesota before a year with Miami and is currently in Dallas).  Culpepper played the first four games but then due to ineffectiveness and more battles with the coaching staff he was benched "until his injuries healed."  Culpepper ended up having surgery and was put on IR before he ever played again in a Dolphins uniform.

Culpepper again fought with ownership during the offseason, and as a result the Dolphins traded for Trent Green and released Culpepper.  The Oakland Raiders quickly snatched up Culpepper as a JaMarcus Russell insurance policy, and he did see decent success in 6 starts for the Raiders.  However, Culpepper hurt his hamstring in an off-field race with CB Stanford Routt and was knocked out for the rest of the year.  So in September of 2008, after trying out for a lot of teams during the offseason, Culpepper announced his retirement.

In November of 2008, to the surprise of no one, Culpepper unretired and signed a two year contract with the Detroit Lions.  This was the year of the 0-16 Lions, and Culpepper did his part by losing each one of his 5 starts.  The Lions drafted Matthew Stafford in 2009 and he was named the starter, but he got hurt and Culpepper was given one last chance to shine.  He got five more starts and again lost all five, leading to third stringer Drew Stanton starting in Week 17.  And Culpepper has not played in the NFL since.

I'll keep Randy Moss' write-up short, since Bennett and Culpepper's went so long.  Randy Moss, like Culpepper, was super talented and also kind of a headcase.  Unlike Culpepper, Moss did not get hurt nearly as much, and so he was able to nullify his negatives with some huge positives.  It's kind of crazy that everyone sort of remembers him as a Patriot now due to his record setting 23 touchdowns on 98 receptions in 2007, because he was absolutely filthy as a Vikings.  All total he had 587 receptions for 9,316 yards and 92 touchdowns in the purple and gold, which is a fantastic career in and of itself.  With the Patriots Moss added 259 catches for 3,904 yards and another 50 touchdowns.  The only thing that really weighs Moss' career down at all is his time outside of those two teams, aka his two years in Oakland, one year in San Francisco, and half year in Tennessee where he combined for just 136 receptions for 2,072 yards and 14 touchdowns.  But though those seasons were subpar by the standards set by the rest of his career, I'd say Moss is still a HOF shoo-in when his times comes.

Who wins the card? Well it's not Culpepper or Bennett, this one comes down to the WRs Carter and Moss.  And it really depends on your style I suppose.  Carter has more receptions and Pro Bowls (8 to Moss' 6) and was less volitaile, acting as a franchise face for the Eagles and Vikings (he had that one final year in Miami but most people forget that).  Moss had more yards and touchdowns and set that one TD record.  It's close as heck and I don't think you could go wrong either way, but as a Patriots fan I will again show my bias and go with Moss.  He could drive you nuts, but then he'd score another five touchdowns and you'd kind of forget about it, which was nice.

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