History Repeats for Vikings — 18 Years Apart

October 30, 2005; Charlotte, NC, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback #11 Daunte Culpepper is helped off the field by a trainer and head coach Mike Tice after getting injured in the first half against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE Copyright © 2005 Bob Donnan.

Brace yourself for spookiness.

History Repeats for Vikings

On October 30th, 2005, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper blew out his knee in a road game against the Carolina Panthers in Week 8 of the 2005 regular season in his sixth year as the team’s starter.

On October 29th, 2023, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins reportedly tore his Achilles’ in a road game against the Green Bay Packers in Week 8 of the 2023 regular season in his sixth year as the team’s starter.

It’s the same thing, history repeated, sans a few variables like age.

History Repeats for Vikings
Oct 23, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) leaves the field after the game against the San Francisco 49ers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Culpepper joined the Vikings in 1999 — the Jeff George season — and seized the QB1 job during the 2020 offseason after Minnesota failed to lure Dan Marino to Minneapolis for an end-of-career hurrah. Culpepper thrived immediately, taking the Vikings to the NFC Championship.

He would stabilize the Vikings QB operations for 5.5 years, albeit with some woes along the way, like fumbles and up-and-down seasons.

Sept. 11, 2005; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end #97 Simeon Rice hits Minnesota Vikings quarterback #11 Daunte Culpepper and forces a fumble that the Buccaneers recover in the half at the Metrodome. Tampa Bay leads at the half 17-7. Mandatory Credit: Photo By Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports Copyright (c) 2005 Bruce Kluckhohn.

Cousins was not drafted by Minnesota but joined the club in free agency after the 2017 season, former general manager Rick Spielman’s fix-all plan to pair the productive passer with an elite defense. The experiment did not take off in 2018, but the following season, 2019, Cousins and the Vikings won their only playoff game of his tenure.

Like Culpepper, Cousins wasn’t always an upper-echelon performer but didn’t encounter downright mediocre seasons. Culpepper would flatly have underwhelming years and mostly received a pass from the fanbase — then and now; he’s regarded in a favorable light these days — while Cousins was skewered on a per-play basis.

Oct 15, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) takes the field before the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports.

And if the Vikings do not re-sign Cousins in February or March — he’s scheduled for free agency in 2024 — the two men will have experienced the same fate: a career-altering injury in Week 8 in their sixth season as the Vikings QB1.

It’s eerie. The day before Halloween, at that.

After Culpepper, the Vikings leaned on Brad Johnson for 1.5 years before landing on a total jumble of mid-tier [or bad] passers like Tarvaris Jackson, Gus Frerotte, Brooks Bollinger, Kelly Holcomb, and Sage Rosenfels. Quarterback operations were never rectified until 2009 when Brett Favre arrived — and after he vamoosed, Minnesota returned to Christian Ponders, Josh Freemans, and Matt Cassels before drafting Teddy Bridgewater.

Oct. 16, 2005; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper runs with the ball against the Chicago Bears Sunday Oct. 16 at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Photo By Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports Copyright (c) 2005 Matt Cashore.

Now, 18 years removed from the fall of Culpepper, the Vikings will turn to quarterbacks like Jaren Hall, Nick Mullens, and Sean Mannion if no trade is pulled off by Tuesday or a free agent signed in the next few weeks. The franchise will also have an eye on the 2024 NFL Draft at quarterback if Cousins doesn’t return.

Eighteen years apart, October 30th versus October 29th, the Vikings have a close-to-identical quandary.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.