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Culpepper: 'I never wanted to see Randy leave'

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper is bewildered and hurt by suggestions that he was responsible for the departure of wide receiver Randy Moss, the Star Tribune reported in Thursday's editions.

In an interview with the newspaper Wednesday night, Culpepper
insisted he did nothing to force the trade that the Vikings
finalized with the Oakland Raiders earlier in the day.

Randy Moss Moss

Daunte Culpepper Culpepper

Culpepper acknowledged that he did not always approve of Moss'
conduct, but said overcoming the loss of his top receiver will be
as difficult as dealing with his flaws, the newspaper reported.

"This trade, I hated to see it," Culpepper told the Star
Tribune.

"I guess it's a business, and as a team we have to move on,"
Culpepper said. "One thing we know, by looking at New England, is
that teams win championships, not individuals. ... But there's no
way we can replace Randy. There's no way to find a guy that does
what he does. As a team, we're going to have to find a way to pick
up the slack.

"I can't speak for everybody," Culpepper continued. "Moss
rubbed everybody in different ways, but he wasn't that bad of a
guy. He has a certain way of going about things, and there were
things that I definitely disagreed with him on. But he's still my
friend and I never had any real beef with him."

Culpepper said comments he made at the Pro Bowl that some
interpreted as being accepting of a trade were misunderstood.

"I never wanted to see Randy leave. And I never said that. I
don't know how it got out that I did. I want to make that clear.
Maybe the Vikings organization was ready to move on, but that was
never what I was saying. He's a once-in-a-lifetime player," he
told the Star Tribune.

Last month, at the Pro Bowl, Culpepper said of Moss: "He's my
good friend, but you almost get to thinking that maybe enough is
enough. And maybe the Vikings organization has had enough."

The Vikings have said little about their reasons for making the
trade. In a statement released by the team Wednesday, owner Red
McCombs said only, "We have decided to go in a different direction
at this point."

Other team officials deferred comment ahead of a McCombs
teleconference with reporters Thursday.