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Awkward Situation for Culpepper


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Culpepper scrambles through awkward situation at Super Bowl event


MARK LONG, AP Sports Writer


Wednesday, February 2, 2005



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.

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February 3, 2005 -- JACKSONVILLE ? Sometimes it's the little things that make the biggest impact.


"Wasn't nothing big to me," Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper told The Post yesterday, "but to him it was huge."


A kind gesture meant so much to J.T. Townsend, a 17-year old at Episcopal High School in this city who in October was paralyzed during a football game. Townsend yesterday was released from Wolfson Children's Hospital and was a guest at the FedEx Air & Ground press conference, where Peyton Manning was named the Air NFL Player of the Year and Curtis Martin won the Ground award.


When the floor was opened up to questions, Townsend, seated in a wheelchair, said "Can I borrow your ice?"


The statuesque Culpepper, one of the nominees, bounded from the podium and placed his two massive silver necklaces around Townsend's neck.


"I heard about what happened to him during the season," Culpepper said. "I could see he thought my jewelry was cool so I said, 'You want to wear them?'


"I wish I had two sets so I could give him one, just to brighten his day up a little bit. When he put them on, I could see tears running down his face."


Townsend wore the jewerly for about 20 minutes before Culpepper asked for it back and made sure to take down Townsend's address so he could send him something else.

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