Kluwe warns that “distraction” is code for intolerance

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Three weeks ago, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman suggested that “thug” has become code for racial slurs.  Former NFL punter Chris Kluwe has applied that same argument to the circumstances confronting former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam.

In Kluwe’s mind, another term suggests intolerance to sexual orientation.

“The code word to look for here is ‘distraction,'” Kluwe told Henry Lake and Jay Binkley of 610 SportsRadio in Kansas City.  “They always love to use that word, ‘distraction.’ It reminds me a lot of what Richard Sherman was talking about, when he said, ‘Why it was OK for everyone to call me a thug when it’s a code word for the N-word now?’ In this case, ‘distraction’ really seems to be a code word for, ‘I’m intolerant and I don’t like gay people. And I think it’s going to distract people because I’m personally distracted by it.'”

Kluwe is right, to an extent.  Some coaches and/or General Managers will hide behind the term “distraction” because they simply don’t want to have an openly gay player in the locker room, either because they disagree with that orientation or because they fear the locker room will become divided and dysfunctional.

But some teams truly won’t want the distraction that comes from the enhanced media attention, the Tebow-style coverage of training camp (and you can bet that ESPN will set up shop wherever Sam is practicing in late July), and everything else that goes along with being the first team to have an openly gay NFL player.

In this case, “distraction” can have two meanings.  It can mean what it says — because, clearly, Sam’s presence will be a distraction, at least in the short term.  It also can mean something nefarious.

Manti Te’o was a potential distraction in 2013, and the Chargers didn’t hesitate to move up in round two to get him.  Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin will be distractions in 2014, but both will likely find NFL homes.  Tim Tebow is a major distraction — and largely because of that he remains unemployed.

Sam will get a chance to show that he can play at the NFL level, and that he can deal with the burdens of being the first openly gay NFL player.  Ultimately, teams are looking for players who can help them win games.  For at least one NFL team, the possibility that Sam will develop into a potent pass rusher will outweigh whatever short-term distractions may arise from selecting him.

For others, Kluwe may be right.  The unwillingness to embrace a “distraction” possibly will flow from a reluctance to accept Sam for who he is.

70 responses to “Kluwe warns that “distraction” is code for intolerance

  1. why is Kluwe even mentioned on a football site?
    his career is over and he is done as an Nfl player.
    he should use the other media mainstreams to get his agenda out and his name published.

  2. Vontaze Burfict was a much greater talent than this kid and he didn’t get drafted….why is everyone so sure that this kid will?

  3. As much as people may dislike Kluwe and his methodology…he’s right. I love that he holds people accountable for their attempts at damaging a cause for the sake of their own ignorance or insecurity.

    In this day and age you have to be a real monster to care that much about who a person chooses to be with that you will mess with their profession. Judge them on how they perform on the field. Period. I promise the media will get bored after a week.

  4. Sometimes distraction is code for “not focused enough on football and shows diminishing skills, is overpaid and can be easily replaced for less money”.

  5. This is beyond rich with hypocrisy. Kluwe created a distraction for the Vikings when none of their players were involved.

  6. Love that Kluwe makes SO MANY PEOPLE so UPSET. He is a little smart for the average NFL fan but he’s pretty legit. How is he self promoting when he’s on his friends’ radio show in a KC market?

  7. Oh, so people who thought/think Tebow would be a distraction were intolerant? Not saying I’m a Tebowmaniac, just would like there not to be a double standard. Give me a break!

  8. For most people running successful billion-dollar businesses like an NFL team, this will fit into the context of any business decision:

    1. Benefit – Do I think this (or any) guy can help the team win a Super Bowl?
    2. Cost – Does this (or any) guy bring anything to the table that will detract from our ability to win a Super Bowl?

    As insensitive as it sounds to just say this when you consider a real person is the subject of the decision, everything else is just media fodder for the sake of how a football team or any business is run.

    The unpredictable element here is that the people running the teams are human and for some their feelings will either cloud their view of 1 or two above or make them disregard their assessment of either altogether. My bet is that isn’t enough to make any difference on draft day.

  9. If there was a female kicker that could make 65 yd. field goals, she’d be a distraction. But she’d get invited to some camps. Same as Sam, period. It’s all about ability and winning.

  10. Tebow is not employed in the NFL because he can’t play QB and refuses to consider playing any other position, not because he’s a distraction. He won’t even play in another league to try to improve as a QB.

  11. Kluwe isn’t totally wrong about the term “distraction”, but it is case by case. Until there is a real opportunity for intolerance, it just means distraction. All kluwe is doing is what every disenfranchised group does, drawing attention from the facts through fear and ridicule.

  12. In all seriousness, one of the best places this kid could end up would be New England. Belichick won’t answer any questions about him at all except to say he is one of many guys fighting for a spot on the 53 man roster. Does some things well and needs to keep working on learning and getting better.

    When the press asks any of the players about him they’ll say “He’s a good kid but I’m not worried about what he’s doing, I’m just trying to make sure I’m ready to go out there and do my job”.

    Just like when Tebow was in camp.

    There are a handful of teams who have HC’s and locker rooms that can handle the media circus that will follow this kid…hopefully he goes to one of them.

  13. People like Kluwe are intolerant of other peoples beliefs. Right or wrong, kind or mean. naughty or nice people are still allowed to have a view and belief system that is different than yours Mr.Kluwe. It is unfathomable that as a society we all have to believe what Kluwe thinks or risk the intimidation of being sued for something and losing your job. Because you’re gay doesn’t get your special treatment, or make you untouchable. It means simply put that you’re gay, big deal. Kluwes unemployment crusade is what is going to have this kid without a job. It isn’t that he is gay it is that the media circus will pull away from the team chemistry which is exactly why you were let go sir. You want Sam to succeed then shut your mouth you stupid punter. Can’t you see that you are actually hurting the cause?

  14. This is one of the few times where Kluwe is clearly off base. When you are an NFL player, nearly any agenda that takes time from you becoming the best player you can be IS a distraction!

  15. ESPN is not going to pitch up to watch Sam in camp any more than they pitched up to watch Te’o in camp last summer. It’s completely different from the Tebow farce.

  16. One wonders what Kluwe, would be doing with his life for the betterment of mankind, if he didn’t have the “gay issue” to hang his hat on? In what way is he helping the “cause”. His rant against the Vikings, doesn’t sound terribly mature, and will it help or hinder gay people in the workplace? Isn’t Kluwe himself, the real distraction here? Its always “look at me” with him, and looking, what is it that we are supposed to see? I see a guy that wasn’t terribly valuable to his team and even less so to the next team. If this is how he keeps his face out in public, we can only hope that the media tires of him soon.

  17. It seems to me that a lot of distractions are caused by things being blown out of proportion by people with agendas.
    I personally do not care what your sexual preference is, if you like or don’t like a teams name, or what the color of your skin is.
    Worry about being decent and respectful of others, and not condemning, censoring, or hating them because they don’t agree with you.
    Everyone is different. Accept that fact.
    Live and let live! We will all be better off for it!

  18. How do I keep missing those meetings where everybody decides what the new code words really mean?

    Distraction is code for… um… Distraction. This story is already a distraction and the kid isn’t even in the league yet?

  19. Kluwe is right, but he needs to shut up.

    Hes like that one hetero friend who totally accepts you being gay and it goes to a point where he puts himself in the center of your gayness. Its almost annoying, im sure the gay community will get tired of this guy too.

  20. That’s right Kluwe. Distraction is code word for being intolerant to boorish behavior, expensive & below avg punting. But yeah, keeping throwing a tantrum until the media gets bored with you as well.

  21. You lost me at Kluwe is right to a certain extent. He is an idiot for lack of a better word for sake of time I wont explain myself. Politics and football should not mix. Equal rights for everyone except Kluwe he’s annoying.

  22. I love how straight people love to speak up for gay rights.

    Just because it could be a distraction for some teams, doesn’t mean that they’re anti gay.

    It will be a distraction to some degree for any team because he’s the first….. The distraction will come from the media constantly wanting to seek information on how the locker room is holding uo and how much support he may or may not have. That’s normal, especially in cases like this.

    Kluwe seems to not want to give anyone any credit for anything.

  23. Kluge needs to shut up and go away. He is no longer a player because his skill set wasn’t good enough. His opinion on the matter is immaterial at this point.

  24. Kluwe is a master at getting out in front of things to let you know that you are a bigot if you disagree with him. If you call Sam a distraction, you’re a bigot. If you think Kluwe is a bad punter, you’re a bigot. If you hire Priefer as your special teams coach, you’re a bigot. Thankfully, people don’t seem to be that worried about whether or not Kluwe thinks they are bigots.

  25. Michael Sam controls whether or not he is viewed as a distraction by his behavior between now and the Draft.

    If he chooses to bathe in the media spotlight by making “look at me” media rounds and establishing his identity as “the first openly gay NFL draft prospect” then he will be establishing himself as a legitimate distraction and teams and teammates will take note.

    However, if he chooses to put his nose back to the grindstone, manage media effectively, and refocus on his Combine preparations, he will establish his identity as “an NFL draft prospect that will help NFL teams win games,” that will go a long way to minimize distraction and will also be noted by teams and teammates.

    Choose your path wisely, Michael.

  26. Does he mean to say that you can’t use the word distraction even if it were a distraction?

    He was a bad punter for a franchise that never won a Superbowl, how bad of a distraction was he?

  27. Who Exactly crowned Chris Kluwe the Gay Word Interpreter??? I think it is reasonable to assume a gay player would cause a distraction in a locker room or two.

  28. All America, all SEC, perfect for the Seahawks. Let him stay out there long enough and you’ll see why Seattle is the king of the NFL.

    You’re kidding yourself, if you think the NFL will not shelter this young man. The owners are on board, so the players and coaches might as well just shut up and let it play out.

    Who would be surprised if the league has not already decided where it’s best for him to play?

  29. Kluwe is just but hurt and is looking back wondring what he will do on tuesdays when world of wacraft has maint. so he is hurt cause he dont know what he will do with rest of his life cause his music sux just like his punting skills so this nutcase needs to back off the bromance issue and go back to his moms basement

  30. Kluwe’s “distractions” included making and publishing cartoons mocking the NFL’s discipline policy, promoting his lame rock band, wearing pro Ray Guy for HOF signs during games, openly defying Frazier’s request that he shut up to avoid all the media attention at Winter Park, and writing a bunch of articles on deadspin. Not all of those distractions related to the gay marriage rights, and even if they did, they are still distractions to the team whether politically correct or not.

  31. According to Kluwe “distraction” is code for “intolerance” so if I am following this logic right “tolerance” would be code for “not being allowed to disagree”… I disagree with all sorts of things but on those issues I’m not accused of being hateful. Disagreeing does not equal hatred. That’s extremely poor logic and utter ignorance.

  32. This is an example what i just posted how the media fans these things. Like a lot here why is this even on a web site. It is a social issue and this will not win me any fantasy football games next year.

  33. Just because ESPN/NFLN/NBCSN/FS1 want to set up shop at your training camp doesn’t mean you have to let them set up a desk/SportsCenter at your facility. In GB, tell them to set up at the Oneida Bingo and Casino. Then they can talk about the Redskins as well.

  34. Let’s be clear about something:

    Tim Tebow remains unemployed not because he is a distraction, but because he really sucks at football on the highest level.

    He didn’t distract anyone in those few glorious weeks in New England.

  35. Kluwe is just trying to sell books, that’s all he’s got left… That and a noodle leg. After desperately wanting to be a Hall of Fame punter and getting released by the Vikings because of a steep annual decline and demanding pay requisite of his former self, this tangent is the only money making opportunity he has left and will surly sell some books to the curious and casual football fan.

  36. No, Tebow isn’t in the league because he is a distraction. Whenever he’s on a team with a below average starting QB, the fandom demands that he be given a chance to play. It’s the backup QB syndrome times a thousand. Of course, the fandom demands he play because he’s shown a repeated penchant for winning games, often in dazzling fashion.

  37. Vikings fan here. I really hope Sam stays away from Kluwe. As much as I want good football players, it might be better if the Vikings didn’t draft Sam because of Priefer being a coach on the team. Kluwe would become OBSESSED even more than he is now and harass the poor kid day in and day out about Priefer, accuse the Vikings of harassing the kid, and make life miserable for everyone involved (and that sucks to say because if Sam was the best player available when it is their pick, they should take him … Kluwe should be sued for saying anything after that if the team does take Sam).

    Like or hate Kluwe, I truly believe the team cut him for his punting. Nothing else.

    Wherever Michael Sam goes, I wish him nothing but the best. I hope he goes on to have a long and successful career. Let him be judged for how he does on the field performance wise and by nothing else!

  38. “Some coaches and/or General Managers will hide behind the term “distraction” because…they fear the locker room will become divided and dysfunctional”

    What you call hiding, some would call doing their job.

  39. So when Tebow was considered a ‘distraction’ it was okay because he’s distracting in a religious way. But if you are gay then it isn’t okay?

    This intolerance thing is so confusing. It seems often the people who are crying intolerance are the people who themselves are quite intolerant of people who don’t agree with them.

    Can the sword not cut both ways in this case?

    Look, it is completely reasonable that a GM who has absolutely nothing against gay people would be nervous of the media storm that would follow the first openly gay active player in NFL history. Nobody is saying this is fair, but if it does create a distraction and rifts in the team that leads to an extra loss that leads to a GM losing his job, he can take little comfort in saying “well, even though my decisions hurt the team’s win loss record and got me fired, at least Chris Kluwe thinks I’m a good guy”.

  40. this kluey guy is just angry he dont get to shower with all these men nemore. cant yall imagine kluey, sam and teo sandwiched in the shower together that would reall make media people happy and never stop talkin bout it

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