On Saturday, Vikings punter Chris Kluwe took a glass-half-full approach to the team’s decision to select UCLA punter Jeff Locke in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL draft. On Sunday, Kluwe is starting to see the glass as potentially being half empty — and he senses that the buzz word if/when he’s released will be “distractions.”
“It’s a shame that in a league with players given multiple second chances after arrests, including felony arrests, that speaking out on human rights has a chance of getting you cut,” Kluwe told PFT via text message.
He’s referring, of course, to his open support for same-sex marriage. Along with former Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, Kluwe hired a lawyer who submitted a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court opposing California’s ban on same-sex marriage. (Other active and retired players eventually joined in the brief.) Kluwe has repeatedly spoken out on the topic, and he has addressed on multiple occasions the question of whether the NFL is ready for an openly gay player.
During the 2012 season, Vikings special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer called Kluwe out for wearing a homemade patch that supported Ray Guy’s candidacy for the Hall of Fame. “Those distractions are getting old for me, to be quite honest with you,” Priefer said at the time.
Of course, the distractions weren’t a problem when Kluwe was staying up very late playing Guitar Hero and Worlds of Warcraft, or staying out very late on Friday night doing shows with his band. After Kluwe opted to get behind a controversial social cause while also getting to bed at a decent hour, the team opted to acquire a player who, given that he was selected in round five, will likely have the field tilted in his favor when it comes to determining whether he or Kluwe gets the Water Pik.
Ayanbadejo, after he was cut by the Ravens, suggested that the decision was influenced by his support for same-sex marriage. Ayanbadejo then retracted that sentiment, perhaps realizing it could keep him from getting an NFL job elsewhere.
Kluwe, to his credit, isn’t worried about the connection between speaking his mind and staying on an NFL roster, in Minnesota or elsewhere. Now that his fate seems to be sealed with the Vikings, here’s hoping that another team will eventually give him an opportunity based not on his political views but based on his punting abilities.