Former NFL Punter Chris Kluwe Explains How His LGBT Rights Activism May Have Led to His Firing January 2, 2014

Former NFL Punter Chris Kluwe Explains How His LGBT Rights Activism May Have Led to His Firing

Chris Kluwe (pronounced CLUE-wee) is the NFL punter and LGBT activist who made headlines in 2012 after a letter he wrote to bigot Democratic Maryland delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. went viral. He didn’t stop being outspoken after that, either, a fact that’s quite courageous considering the NFL ranks only slightly above the Catholic Church when it comes to acceptance of gay people.

He’s also speaking at the upcoming American Atheists convention this April and authored a book titled Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies:

Today, in a post for Deadspin, Kluwe explains that his support for LGBT rights, done as a private citizen and not as an NFL representative, may have cost him his job:

On Sept. 8, the head coach of the Vikings, Leslie Frazier, called me into his office after our morning special-teams meeting. I anticipated it would be about the letter (punters aren’t generally called into the principal’s office). Once inside, Coach Frazier immediately told me that I “needed to be quiet, and stop speaking out on this stuff” (referring to my support for same-sex marriage rights). I told Coach Frazier that I felt it was the right thing to do (what with supporting equality and all), and I also told him that one of his main coaching points to us was to be “good men” and to “do the right thing.” He reiterated his fervent desire for me to cease speaking on the subject, stating that “a wise coach once told me there are two things you don’t talk about in the NFL, politics and religion.” I repeated my stance that this was the right thing to do, that equality is not something to be denied anyone, and that I would not promise to cease speaking out. At that point, Coach Frazier told me in a flat voice, “If that’s what you feel you have to do,” and the meeting ended. The atmosphere was tense as I left the room.

[Minnesota Vikings special-teams coordinator] Mike Priefer also said on multiple occasions that I would wind up burning in hell with the gays, and that the only truth was Jesus Christ and the Bible. He said all this in a semi-joking tone, and I responded in kind, as I felt a yelling match with my coach over human rights would greatly diminish my chances of remaining employed. I felt uncomfortable each time Mike Priefer said these things. After all, he was directly responsible for reviewing my job performance, but I hoped that after the vote concluded in Minnesota his behavior would taper off and eventually stop.

On Feb. 11, I received a message saying, “Please fly under radar please,” from a phone number I would later learn belonged to [Vikings general manager] Rick Spielman. The text message presumably concerned several things I had tweeted that day regarding the Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to step down. Spielman later called me and asked me to stop tweeting about the pope because angry people were ringing up team headquarters in Winter Park, Minn. It should be noted that my tweets concerned the lack of transparency and endemic institutional corruption of the Catholic Church, which among other things allowed child abuse to flourish. I also pointed out how that applied equally to financial and government institutions, and reiterated that I had nothing against anyone’s religion, only against the abuses of power that institutions allow.

And now Kluwe is out of a job.

Is it possible this has everything to do with his performance? Possibly, though Kluwe points out that his “numbers from last year would put me right in the middle of the pack for this year, and I’ve traditionally been in the middle to top third of punters each year.”

It seems more likely that the owners and coaches were looking for a reason to get rid of him because of his activism and his numbers weren’t so stellar that they felt pressured to keep him on the roster.

It’s not too dissimilar from the plight of Jason Collins, the NBA player who came out as gay last year. Collins, who can still put up decent numbers but is by no means a superstar, has yet to find an NBA job since coming out.

And while the focus here is on LGBT rights, you have to wonder if the fact that he’s “cheerfully agnostic” also hurt his cause.

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  • Kevin

    Interested to know if the people who support Kluwe also rose to the defense of Phil Robertson.

  • Mario Strada

    People get fired in the NFL every day and, as far as I know, punters are barely regarded as “players” in most teams.

    However, unless his former team has hired someone with much better stats, in all probability he was let go because of his comments and the fact that he didn’t toe the line.

  • Sven2547

    Because boldly standing up for equality is just like… boldly standing up for inequality?

  • Robertson wasn’t fired, only temporarily suspended. But I admit it, I support Kluwe for his position of equality and don’t support Robertson for his homophobic, racist & misogynist positions. If that makes me hypocrite, so be it.

  • Sven2547

    Chris Kluwe’s 2012 punting stats were an average of 45.0 yards, a long of 59 yards, and 25% of his punts got inside the opponent’s 20-yard-line.

    Jeff Locke (a rookie) 2013 punting stats were an average of 44.2 yards, a long of 65 yards, and 23% of his punts got inside the opponent’s 20.

    Infer from these stats whatever you will, for good or for ill.

    Chris Kluwe’s stats (ESPN)
    Jeff Lockes’s stats (Vikings official site)

    I note that Kluwe’s rookie stats (2005) are almost identical to Locke’s rookie stats.

  • Mario Strada

    Looking for a “Gotcha” are you?

    As a matter of fact I thought A&E was out of line suspending Mr. Duck Commander for stating his opinions. Just like I disapprove of the Vikings getting rid of Kluwe in this case, if that’s what the reason is.

    Of course, I agree with Kluwe and I vehemently disagree with Mr. Robertson, b ut I believe both have the right to keep their job AND voice their opinions as long as they are not breaking the law in doing so.

    That’s kjust common sense in my book.

    I also thought that A&E made another, bigger mistake in suspending Mr. Robertson from a purely business perspective. They know better than I do what the show demographic is and they should have been able to predict that their action would have created the reaction it did.

    If I were A&E I would have simply stated that Mr. Robertson’s opinions where his own and did not represents A&E. Period.

    Now instead they had to bend over and show the world what pussies they are and they have given Mr. Robertson and those that think like him a victory they did not deserve.

    So, to answer your question, as much as I can I do consider the two cases similar enough to warrant a similar reaction. I don;t “support” neither of these gentlemen because it is not in my power to do so, but if I were elected King I would have given both their job back.

    On the other hand, given the short post and the obvious confrontational tone, are you agreeing with Kluwe firing or do you think he should have kept his job?

  • John Lev

    Well, let’s ensure that the “Duck Dynasty” crowd knows about this. I’m certain they’ll start a petition right away demanding he be rehired and support his “free speech” rights. *rolleyes*.

  • Jeremiah Traeger

    Neither of these are free speech issues, so legally they are on the same ground. Therefore I can support Kluwe and still call Phil Robertson a bigoted, racist homophobe and not be a hypocrite.

  • WallofSleep

    Actually, I’m far more interested in what gay-bashing bigots like Steve Harvey have to say about Phil’s racist apologia. Which is to say, barely interested.

  • WallofSleep

    “Chris Kluwe has 1st amend rights & can say whatever he wants!”

    … said Sarah Palin and her army of drooling wingnuts, never.

  • The Starship Maxima

    I respect your honesty.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Took the words out of my mouth.

  • Spectrall

    Among full time punters in 2012, Kluwe was second to last in number of times pinning opponents inside the 20. It’s generally harder to quantify punter performance than, say, quarterbacks, but this is one of the key points that teams look at. I really enjoy Kluwe, but it’s entirely possible that he’s just not very good and teams honestly believe that he’s just not very good.

    edit – To be fair, only two Kluwe punts were touchbacks, so that low number of inside 20 punts might just be because the Minnesota offense is absolute garbage.

  • The Starship Maxima

    If Chris Kluwe really was fired for his LGBT activism and not for his middling performance……I fully support a petition to get him reinstated or for some reciprocal boycott of the NFL.

  • Spectrall

    Yeah, the vast majority of punters are something near statistically indistinguishable. It sure looks, at least at a surface glance, like a job that’s pretty hard to do at the NFL level, but that runs into a skill cap that makes middling, good, and bad look pretty much the same.

  • WallofSleep

    I suppose we’ll never really know for sure. And I imagine the NFL can legally fire players for just about anything they want. But I live in an “at will” state, and that may not apply to the NFL. I dunno.

    I do know that just because the NFL (or A&E for that matter) might be working within their legal rights terminating or suspending an employee, it does not mean that they are absolved from any criticism for doing so.

  • The Starship Maxima

    A similar case with his fellow NFL gay rights crusader Brendon Ayendebajo. As soon as he was cut, he too pulled the “I’m a poor persecuted gay rights activist”. Perhaps, or it was because he was old and too expensive and there were a bunch of younger linebackers in the draft.

    I’m amazed at how atheists love to mock Christians for pulling the persecution card, and are dead silent when Hemant buys into Kluwe’s conspiracy theory which is substantiated by nothing approaching facts.

  • Spectrall

    Collins, who can still put up decent numbers but is by no means a superstar, has yet to find an NBA job since coming out.

    By what measure are his numbers decent? I like Collins a lot and I think it’s reasonable that he stayed in the league for quite a while on his reputation of defense and locker room presence, but his stats are simply horrible. Last year, at 34 years old, he was shooting 31% from the field and had very poor per minute rebounding and shot blocking numbers as well. That’s not likely to improve at age 35. He seems like a great guy, but has essentially zero value as an NBA basketball player.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Sorry Hemant, but once again, you’re reaching. It speaks volumes about both Collins and Kluwe that they are more known for their coming out/gay activism than for their talent. Which is probably why neither has a job in a competitive sports league.

  • onamission5

    I don’t think I could possibly love a book title more than Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies. Keep being you, Kluwe.

  • God’s Starship

    He’s a bright guy. He might be on to something regarding his firing.

  • God’s Starship

    I don’t defend hate.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Yes, he is a bright guy. A washed up punter finding new life as a newly minted martyr for gay rights…pretty brilliant actually.

  • Kluwe was a good punter – probably the second best one in Vikings history. The team’s punting took a serious step backward without him last season. I want to point that out because it is simply false to call him “washed up.” He is still rather young, but it seems that no team will touch him now.

  • God’s Starship

    Hey, it’s Captain False Equivalence back again! He not pulling the “persection card.” (Christ, could you be more obnoxious?) Kluwe is just considering a possibility and is sharing his reasons for our consideration. A far cry from Christians who cry about persecution just because there was a gay marriage float in the Rose Bowl parade. And it’s really classy of you to berate Hemant for “buying into” something when he clearly leaves room for doubt in the article.

  • God’s Starship

    His stats were pretty decent, actually.

    It’s a shame you think that. I’m sure your approval is what gets him out of bed in the morning.

  • michaelfugate

    8 years and he wasn’t talented? Who’s reaching?

  • The Starship Maxima

    It give me a sense of completeness to know I can always count on your simplemindedness.

    Just because they skirt the line between “postulating” and outright lying pacifies someone like you, but it fools nobody else.

    Kluwe is no idiot. He can’t possibly think that idling wondering aloud if his gay activism ended his career wouldn’t bring out the small minds, yours being an example, clamoring to his cause.

  • Jeff

    Before I could reply logically to your comment, could you please demonstrate an example of Christian persecution in this country, so I have a reference between a persecuted Christian and a persecuted Atheist?

  • The Starship Maxima

    Nice try.

    Yes, he was able to get drafted unto an NFL team and play for 8 years. But by his own admission his career swing from the top third to middling. In his final year, he was ranked 24th out of 36.

    So yes, he lacks the talent to justify the $1.5 million he was set make had he been signed. Which is a far more reasonable explanation he got cut rather than his gay activism.

  • The Starship Maxima

    I didn’t say he, you, or anyone else needs my approval nor did I suggest it. But please, carry on.

  • Spuddie

    Unlike many American Christians who claim martyrdom, he is actually in a negative situation due to his beliefs in something other than self-entitlement and privilege.

  • The Starship Maxima

    I don’t deny Christians reach for “Woe is me” card early and often.

    But I see nothing that makes me think Kluwe suffered anything for speaking out for gay rights.

  • The Starship Maxima

    As a matter of fact, when he was cut by the Vikings, the Raiders signed him at the beginning of this season. He was cut before the season began, as so many washed up players are. Mind you, he was still paid for making the preseason team, as is NFL mandate.

    Being the second best punter in Vikings history is irrelevant to the here and now. In the here and now, he finished near the bottom third of punters in the league, and it’s better to have a young punter who won’t cost $1.5 million.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Christians in this country aren’t persecuted in any way. I’m not sure what that has to do with Kluwe being cut for his declining skills rather than his gay activism.

  • Spuddie

    None. Stupid rednecks only think freedom of speech means supporting things they like.

    Phil was defending racism and bigotry. Phil got a slap on the wrist for it. 2 weeks suspended and now he is back, just in time for Duck Dynasty box sets to shoot up in demand during Christmas week.

    Kluwe got fired. He suffered a real fate for his views.

  • Spuddie

    Robertson didn’t even really get punished for his speech. It became positive publicity and a jump in royalties on DVD sales (and viewership of his show) for a symbolic 2 week “suspension”.

  • Spuddie

    He was fired for it. Explicitly. He suffered for speaking his mind.

    In the article they said outright he was not fired for poor performance as you keep trying to imply. He was fired for his political views. They said outright

    Coach Frazier immediately told me that I “needed to be quiet, and stop speaking out on this stuff”

  • Kluwe has a better case here than Collins that something is amiss. Collins was a marginal veteran player whose main value at this point was size for guarding post players. I’m not sure he was going to be coming back this season anyway for some team, announcement or no. He was never very productive other than on defense throughout his career though so that isn’t a huge drop-off from his prime playing days. Kluwe was diminishing too, apparently, but not unproductive.

    Then again, he’s a punter. And I’d probably get rid of all punters anyway if I were running an NFL team or find something else for them to do (kick field goals?).

    That all said, he can say what he wants, and his employer can decide to fire him over his activism. We can then respond by saying it was dumb to do so. And then they can point to performance rather than a blacklisting effect. And on it goes. I don’t think insinuating it was for activism (when it could be difficult to prove and has little legal value, even as it is valuable ethically) is the way to go to get him back in the league, but it works well for raising the profile of activism.

    Edit: I’d point out I agree with the goal of this activism and admire that he made it so vociferously. I’m just not persuaded that it was the main or sole basis of dismissal.

  • I’d also point out that it doesn’t seem like there’s much commentary here that the other players had any problems with either of them. That can also be a reason to get rid of a marginal player is team chemistry and both the NFL and NBA have no shortage of religious fundamentalist Christians playing in the league who might express a similar disdain (to that of Priefer) that finding a good fit for either might be more difficult than it needs to be.

  • God’s Starship

    You’re talking to someone who won’t condemn a word Phil Robertson said. But when it comes to Chris Kluwe, he sure loves selective reading.

  • God’s Starship

    Well it’s hard for us simpleminded folk to stand in the shadow of giants like yourself.

  • Anymouse

    Neither I nor anyone else needs your respect, nor did anyone request it. But please, carry on.

  • The Starship Maxima

    I get bored of correcting your bias and ignorance, but still……

    First off, I said in this very comment section if Kluwe really was fired for advocating gay rights, there needs to be an investigation immediately. A person should be hired or fired based on their ability to do the job given in a professional and timely manner, and for NO other reason.

    Because I don’t do selective reading, I’m looking at ALL the facts, not just Kluwe’s personal crusader story or Hemant’s article. As someone who actually follows football, I’m familiar with Kluwe’s output, and it’s not very impressive, particularly in the later years of his career.

  • In his last season with the Vikings, Kluwe had the second-highest average distance and the highest average net of his career. As I said, the team was noticeably worse in punting this year without him. I don’t know where you came up with the “washed up” idea.

    He was cut for being outspoken. He almost went unsigned after his release until the Raiders, with a long history of picking up players who no one else will touch, grabbed him. The Raiders had the terrific rookie Marquette King who edged out Kluwe and went on to have a great season. When Kluwe was cut, his career was over, but not because he is washed up. It is very unlikely that anyone will even be willing to take a look at him anymore.

  • The Starship Maxima

    You’re not exactly sharing something I didn’t already know, so I’m not exactly sure what your point was.

  • $84687101

    This exactly. Were it the government taking action against either of these men, I’d feel obligated to defend even the odious, hateful bigot Robertson. But since it’s a private company in both cases, they have the right to do it and I only think it’s a bad decision when they silence the one speaking for equality, not the one speaking for hate.

    On the other hand, the Special Teams coordinator, it seems, tried to create a hostile work environment based on religion, which may be a legally actionable claim.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Your attempt at sarcasm is duly noted. I am no giant, I’m just someone who looks at the facts. Kluwe, at his prime, was an okay punter. Okay punters get released from the NFL all the time, usually without media speculation.

  • michaelfugate

    Did the 12 punters below him all get fired?

  • $84687101

    The NFL: Mysteriously involved in murder? Beat your girlfriend? Harass other employees with racial slurs and threats? Convicted of abusing and killing animals? Sexual harassment and rape allegations? No problem. Say LGBT people should have equal rights and maybe the Catholic Church has some institutional problems? Fired.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Kluwe ranked 31 out of 36 punters in putting the ball inside the opponents 20 yard line, a really big deal when you’re trying to win football games.

    And yes, he would have a high average relative to the rest of the league as he plays in a domed stadium. The Giants Steve Weatherford would probably crush Kluwe’s numbers if MetLife had a dome.

    And while his average may have been high, his TOTAL punting yards put him at number 20 in the league. You can see that for yourself here .

    I’m sorry, I’m just not seeing his vast homophobic cabal out to get him.

  • The Starship Maxima

    I’m not sure all 12 were going to make $1.5 million in salary in the 2013 season.

  • michaelfugate

    So it could well be that he was a perfectly talented punter, but making too much money?

  • Spuddie


    I even mentioned further downthread that Robertson financially benefited from his remarks. He is back on the show, just in time to cash residual checks for the flurry of pre-christmas sales of the last season’s box set.

    At best it was a publicity stunt which increased his marketability and public visibility. Kluwe got no such windfall, nor can his punishment be chalked up to cynical marketing ploys.

  • Brian K

    Undoubetably the rookie gets paid significantly less.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Well, the numbers as they are suggest Kluwe wasn’t “perfectly talented” and was more “pretty good”. In the NFL, pretty good in a position like punter, which are a dime a dozen in any draft, will cause someone to look at you when it comes time to trim the fat, and $1.5 million is a whole lot of fat.

    Also, keep in mind, the very same season Kluwe made his comments, the 49ers Chris Culliver made some outright homophobic remarks. The speed with which Culliver was called out on his stupidity was astounding. That same season, the Redskins Robert Griffin III outright said “now is the time for any gay player to come out.” No one reprimanded him.

    It makes for a nice meme to say Kluwe’s advocacy cost him his job, except all signs point to a league full of teams that would’ve loved to sign the brave gay rights crusader and score major cred as a truly progressive league.

    The numbers simply suggest he wasn’t that good to warrant the money when there are so many others.

  • The Starship Maxima

    It amazes me how ignorance bolsters ignorance.

  • Spuddie

    Your ignorance concerning Robertson’s current fate. He is already back on the show. It is literally yesterday’s news. He got a Christmas to New Years vacation out of it. Big whoop,

  • The Starship Maxima

    That is completely irrelevant to the point I’m making. I’m saying that this obsession with suspending, boycotting, firing, or disciplining people for expressing opinions is something I oppose. I don’t care WHO does it or to whom it is done.

    That the Robertson controversy may or may not have been a publicity stunt doesn’t change that. If Kluwe really was being discriminated against, I say go after the league, today.

    My lack of support for Kluwe has nothing to do with Phil Robertson, God’s Starship brought that up. My lack of support for Kluwe has to do with the fact that his performance doesn’t justify his place in the NFL.

  • Spuddie

    We have Kluwe’s word, but we don’t have anyone else in rebuttal.

    So in the absence of evidence to the contrary, his story is more credible than your speculation.

  • Spuddie

    If the team management actually came out and said it was based on performance, your speculation would have at least some support. But they didn’t say that. They did not rebut Kluwe’s remarks concerning his firing at all.

    So that leaves a player with personal firsthand knowledge of the facts recalling what he heard vs. something else based on nothing beyond guesswork.

  • The Starship Maxima

    This is true, Kluwe’s unrefuted story is pretty strong vs. my speculation (particularly on a site like this).

    But, Kluwe’s story vs. the wider context? Not so much. As I pointed out below, when Chris Culliver spewed some homophobic crap, the league, his team, and fellow players all jumped down his throat and rightfully so. Roger Goodell, the league comissioner, has mandated the NFL become more inclusive. When Kluwe voiced his support for gay marriage many around the league including his teammates cheered him on.

    So, this vision of a homophobic NFL that would ruthlessly suppress his right to free speech doesn’t seem to match reality. Throw in his middle grade performance and the “persecuted gay activist” theory holds up less well than “31-year-old expensive kicker washes out”.

  • Spuddie

    Its really more of the image of an NFL which tries desperately to avoid being in the news for anything non-football related and a team whose management was homophobic.

    I don’t see the team supporting their decision publicly. It appears they want to make sure the story dies off and nobody calls them out on it. The best spin control sometimes is to do nothing at all. This works in well with the idea of a controversy-averse NFL.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Actually, that’s not true. Vikings GM Rick Spielman gave an interview to Sports Illustrated prior to the 2013 draft in which they drafted Jeff Locke and stated that football and football alone was going to determine what they did.

    But even if they didn’t say that, even if Frazier and the others Kluwe’s is accusing have too much class to address the rants, my speculation, I believe, has merit because it’s based on objective fact. Additionally, nearly every single NFL analyst and commentator has pointed out Kluwe’s relatively lackluster performance.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Okay, that was a really good retort.

  • michaelfugate

    But everything you say is contradictory – either he was a bad punter or he was too expensive – which was it? You seem to be unable to make a case for him being a bad punter – which he obviously wasn’t or he would have been cut during the year and replaced with one of the dime a dozen punters waiting in the wings. You are basically talking out your ass.

  • michaelfugate

    What cause would that be?

  • The Starship Maxima

    I am not talking out of my ass. You, on the other hand, are very much acting like one.

    This is not a difficult concept to grasp. It is possible for someone to be average, or okay, or even pretty decent, but not at a level that warrants the money.

    Kluwe’s replacement, Jeff Locke, put up nearly identical numbers to Kluwe’s the season before. Whereas Kluwe was due $1.5 million dollars, the rookie put up a similar performance nearly a million dollars less. Locke is also young and has a whole career in front of him. This is common sense. It’s not hard to figure out.

  • Kluwe’s averages were at career highs compared to all the other years he played in a dome. He also had slightly better numbers kicking outdoors rather than inside. And the special teams coach went on record saying he was tired of Kluwe’s “distractions.”

    Before Kluwe was cut, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King wrote, “Kluwe is toast in Minnesota. But he’ll have a major gripe if he’s not signed to be someone’s punter this year, or at least to come in and compete equally for a job. If he isn’t punting somewhere in late July, there will be no question in my mind that NFL teams want their punters to be seen and not heard.” Well, the Raiders gave him a shot, but that was it.

  • The Starship Maxima

    That’s my point avery. Even at his peak, Kluwe was never a franchise punter (well, punter’s aren’t franchise players per se, but you get my meaning).

    Peter King can write whatever he wants, there are at least 50 analysts from all over the league who know Kluwe never really lived up to his contract.

    As for Kluwe’s distractions, people don’t realize Kluwe had a number of antics going, the most famous being the Ray Guy thing. His gay rights activism gets all the press, but Kluwe was always a bit of a big mouth.

  • God’s Starship

    If you could not insinuate his gay rights activism amounts to “antics” it might go a long to convincing your detractors you have some concept of class. That would be a great start.

  • Sven2547

    Kluwe played for the same team for, what, 8 seasons? That’s about as close to “franchise” as punters get, right?

  • The Starship Maxima

    And if you could learn to read, it would go a long way toward convincing me I should give a shit what you think.

    I did not call his activism antics, as I myself agree with him on that point. I called his antics antics and I gave an example.

    If when you say “detractors”, you mean people with suspect reading abilities and narrow, closed minds, then I assure you I wouldn’t lift a finger to convince them of anything.

  • The Starship Maxima

    He had longevity, true. But generally, to be considered franchise anything, you have to place in the top 20 percent, not just reach the top third a few seasons.

  • I’d note also there’s a detail omitted from the piece Kluwe himself wrote in choosing what to quote above: namely that the team owner was very supportive of him and what he had to say. It’s possible this slowed down the process of releasing him or it is possible that ownership simply said “I don’t care” and let personnel decisions be made at a lower level which permitted any bigoted sniping or performance related concerns to take precedence from there.

    His detail of events does sound as though there was a particular grudge by a coach and that the overall situation was handled in what appears to be a less than professional manner. I’m not sure he presented evidence he’s been blacklisted by other NFL teams though on the basis of these views so much as that it is plausible the team he was with replaced on him on some relationship with those views. But there were a lot of reasons the team could offer instead to make this much less clear.

    Presumably after this article, if they were to hire Priefer as the head coach (as it sounds like is a possibility), they would sent have a clearer message that this is why he was dismissed personally. This would also be clear if Kluwe were to get another job punting somewhere else. Also left out is that Oakland’s punter, the other team to approach him, led the league in punting average this year. So they probably didn’t need him.

    Side note: Minnesota’s special teams rank in the top 5-6 statistically for at least the last couple of seasons (they were terrible in 2011, Priefer was hired in 2011 I believe). Which means the review method of points he describes the team as using probably has no merit since it should be impossible for most of the players on that unit to be negative contributors if it is a very good unit overall. That does sound like a totally arbitrary means of coaching and pretending to use data to look like a “details” oriented coach.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Kluwe’s individual performance is a separate consideration from the unit’s overall performance, though they are related. So the fact that Minnesota’s special teams over all rank high doesn’t mean Kluwe is good.

    Looking at the metrics for measuring Kluwe’s performance, and especially looking at his performance relative to others in his position, it looks completely legit to deem him unworthy of his contract.

    The fact that his replacement put up near identical numbers at less than half the cost drives the point home.

  • God’s Starship

    Don’t play stupid. The entire article is about his activism, not “the Ray Guy thing”. You’re painting him as a “big mouth” to attack his strengths. You’ve been attacking his character because it kills you to give his point of view the benefit of the doubt.

  • The Starship Maxima

    I honestly can’t even pretend to try to reason with this level of stupidity.

  • Spuddie

    Or they don’t want to be in a situation where other people come forward to corroborate Kluwes’ story. They don’t want mainstream media outlets picking up on an ongoing story. What you may call class, I call being media savvy.

    The team did not actually address the issue and you are trying to do so entirely through implication and speculation. Talking about hiring a new kicker does not equal talking about firing an old one. The drafting of Jeff Locke could easily be considered independent of
    Kluwe’s situation. Teams always want to have a little more depth in their bench.

  • The Starship Maxima

    If that’s the true story, then yes. If he simply got cut because he was never a top 10 punter and he was set to make a lot of money had he been signed, then no.

  • The Starship Maxima

    I concede the point that the Vikings didn’t actually address the issue.

    But considering that this isn’t Kluwe’s first time in the spotlight, I doubt keeping silent would stop somebody from saying, “yep, that’s true.” or saying “it happened on my team too”.

  • Spuddie

    Of course in the absence of evidence to the contrary, there is little reason to believe the story is false. We don’t have statements from the Vikings with any claims that they fired him for poor performance. In fact we have no statements from the Vikings at all on the subject.

  • MN Atheist

    I always thought Kluwe was a solid punter…not the best of the best but he held his own. No trouble until he went public. The comments on our local news stations here were mostly negative when the story broke. Next year he was gone from the Vikings and headed for a one year stint in Oakland. Tons of players point to the sky after touchdowns and whatnot so it wouldn’t surprise me if management was the same way. They ousted him for his views, plain and simple.

  • Spuddie

    It ensures the story doesn’t have much life to it. That people will move on to something else a lot quicker since it will be “old news”.

  • William C Rader

    “A wise coach once told me there are two things you don’t talk about in the NFL, politics and religion.” Christian NFL players talk about their religion often.

  • The Starship Maxima

    That too made me scratch my head.

  • michaelfugate

    But this means Kluwe is as talented as Locke. So are you saying that Locke has no talent as well?
    I get that he makes less, but that doesn’t square with your Kluwe is not talented claim. Please get your story straight.

  • The Starship Maxima

    As others have pointed out, Kluwe spoke out on a number of subjects before and there was never any incident.

  • The Starship Maxima

    I have to admit I didn’t really think about that.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Michael, come on. Kluwe got drafted into the NFL and played 8 seasons, of course he has talent (or rather, had). And yes, he set many records for the Vikings.

    But even at his best, he was merely solid. The past two seasons he was less than average. He had his day as a player. Happens all the time.

  • michaelfugate

    I guess that is why Tebow doesn’t have a job any more – it couldn’t be his lack of talent, could it?

  • Marie Alexander

    I went and read the full letter of what Chris Kluwe wrote to Emmett C. Burns Jr, the homophobic delegate, and it’s seriously just pure gold. I just had to post it.

    Dear Emmett C. Burns Jr.,

    I find it inconceivable that you are an elected official of Maryland’s state government. Your vitriolic hatred and bigotry make me ashamed and disgusted to think that you are in any way responsible for shaping policy at any level. The views you espouse neglect to consider several fundamental key points, which I will outline in great detail (you may want to hire an intern to help you with the longer words):

    1. As I suspect you have not read the Constitution, I would like to remind you that the very first, the VERY FIRST Amendment in this founding document deals with the freedom of speech, particularly the abridgment of said freedom. By using your position as an elected official (when referring to your constituents so as to implicitly threaten the Ravens organization) to state that the Ravens should “inhibit such expressions from your employees,” more specifically Brendon Ayanbadejo, not only are you clearly violating the First Amendment, you also come across as a narcissistic fromunda stain. What on earth would possess you to be so mind-boggingly stupid? It baffles me that a man such as yourself, a man who relies on that same First Amendment to pursue your own religious studies without fear of persecution from the state, could somehow justify stifling another person’s right to speech. To call that hypocritical would be to do a disservice to the word. Mindfucking obscenely hypocritical starts to approach it a little bit.

    2. “Many of your fans are opposed to such a view and feel it has no place in a sport that is strictly for pride, entertainment, and excitement.” Holy fucking shitballs. Did you seriously just say that, as someone who’s “deeply involved in government task forces on the legacy of slavery in Maryland”? Have you not heard of Kenny Washington? Jackie Robinson? As recently as 1962 the NFL still had segregation, which was only done away with by brave athletes and coaches daring to speak their mind and do the right thing, and you’re going to say that political views have “no place in a sport”? I can’t even begin to fathom the cognitive dissonance that must be coursing through your rapidly addled mind right now; the mental gymnastics your brain has to tortuously contort itself through to make such a preposterous statement are surely worthy of an Olympic gold medal (the Russian judge gives you a 10 for “beautiful oppressionism”).

    3. This is more a personal quibble of mine, but why do you hate freedom? Why do you hate the fact that other people want a chance to live their lives and be happy, even though they may believe in something different than you, or act different than you? How does gay marriage, in any way shape or form, affect your life? If gay marriage becomes legal, are you worried that all of a sudden you’ll start thinking about penis? “Oh shit. Gay marriage just passed. Gotta get me some of that hot dong action!” Will all of your friends suddenly turn gay and refuse to come to your Sunday Ticket grill-outs? (Unlikely, since gay people enjoy watching football too.)

    I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won’t come into your house and steal your children. They won’t magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster. They won’t even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population—rights like Social Security benefits, child care tax credits, Family and Medical Leave to take care of loved ones, and COBRA healthcare for spouses and children. You know what having these rights will make gays? Full-fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails. Do the civil-rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you?

    In closing, I would like to say that I hope this letter, in some small way, causes you to reflect upon the magnitude of the colossal foot in mouth clusterfuck you so brazenly unleashed on a man whose only crime was speaking out for something he believed in. Best of luck in the next election; I’m fairly certain you might need it.

    Chris Kluwe

    P.S. I’ve also been vocal as hell about the issue of gay marriage so you can take your “I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing” and shove it in your close-minded, totally lacking in empathy piehole and choke on it. Asshole.

  • MN Atheist

    Maybe so, but nothing that reached the level of media that this one did.

  • The Starship Maxima

    That’s a good point.

  • Kluwe’s depiction of it was referring to the entire unit and the unit’s general perspective of the ratings systems, not merely his own evaluations. It is entirely possible that some individual players were negative, including Kluwe. Indeed, I made no claim he was “good” in that above argument as it referred to the entire unit. I made a claim about the evaluation of “most players”. That’s why it was a “side note”. Kluwe’s assertion was that most of the unit had negative evaluations. During a season where the statistical community had the special teams unit ranked 5th overall? That sounds suspect or like a system open to gaming it with arbitrary rulings of what counted as excellent performance rather than a sound system of evaluating player performance with data. It is plausible this happened here, or that the system properly rated him but wasn’t useful overall. (Or maybe the coach is just a sadistic prick who wants his guys to think they’re terrible when they’re actually pretty good on the theory that they’ll continue to work hard or something).

    I’m actually in some agreement that evaluation on performance is a legitimate basis for replacement given the cost. You don’t have to sell me on that point. Punting is a specialist extravagance. If I had my way, there wouldn’t be punters at all on a team as the position seems obsolete. Replacing a player to do it should be quite easy to get reasonably similar performance for cheap and would be quite sensible (versus kicking longer field goals, which at least adds positive value kicking longer punts is basically a disguised turnover in most cases).

    The problem I see is the confounding variables in the attitudes and handling of the matter by the involved coaches and it might be perfectly reasonable to consider those to be a legitimate problem for the team or NFL. None of which may have anything to do with Kluwe personally or his punting abilities. Quite apart from the personnel decision to let an expensive average role player go to be replaced with a cheaper young player to do the same thing, they could have done so in a more professional and effective fashion. Perhaps by approaching and coaching players who aren’t doing as well for example. Or clamping down a bit on violently bigoted evangelism as a coaching style when it is apparent that it has no useful effect on the players performance. It’s very possible the former was attempted and Kluwe is eliding those details in his accounts in favor of the less generous interpretation that his coach was a bigot of the highest order and had it out for him personally. Or it is possible “coaching” doesn’t really matter for this skill and that punters are an easily replaceable performance effect. Which seems to be the case too. But the situation does not appear to have been well-handled regardless.

    PS I perhaps should have been more clear, but you didn’t need to interpret my “side note” in the least desirable fashion; namely that it applied directly to the commentary at hand. It was labeled as a side point because I wasn’t intending to have it refer to the Kluwe decision so much as a commentary on the coach’s supposed detail-oriented style. Much of football coaching seems to be arbitrary and authoritarian decision making rather than guided by details and data to inform the psychology of the team and unit they’re coaching. I suspect this is true of Priefer as well. Eg, They’re busy looking scientific and detail oriented with “metrics” but most of the metrics involved are just arbitrary data they essentially made up rather than based on any consistent raw data evaluation.

  • One point Kluwe made was ownership was supportive. Management may not have been.

    That’s a conflict that ownership should maybe look into.

  • Jeff

    Sorry, I was asking you to clarify your statement “I’m amazed at how atheists love to mock Christians for pulling the persecution card, and are dead silent when Hemant buys into Kluwe’s conspiracy theory which is substantiated by nothing approaching facts.”

    I would also have to ask if you are a member of the Vikings franchise or the coaching staff, or scout for the NFL? I would like to know why you are qualified to determine Kluwe’s skills and abilities, and to make multi-million dollar decisions for that team?

  • The Starship Maxima

    I am saying that when Christians claim persecution where there isn’t any, the folks on this site don’t miss an opportunity to point fingers. In a case like this where there is hard evidence pointing to Kluwe not being worth the money rather than being punished for his beliefs, there’s nary a peep.

    To your other point, I am neither a scout, executive, player, coach or member of any NFL team. I am quoting other scouts, executives, coaches, and players and I am also looking at the numbers.

    I am also not making any determination of Kluwe’s skills or making decisions for the Vikings. I am however looking at them making their own decisions and determinations and I find no fault in them.

  • Kevin

    I think the “gotcha” should work in both directions. Support Kluwe = support Phil. AND vice versa. If the only reason Kluwe lost his job was his LGBT activism, that’s unjust. I don’t disagree with much of anything you said above, and I’m an evangelical Christian.

  • onamission5

    If we support people speaking out for what’s morally right, we also have to support people who speak out in favor of ignorance and injustice?
    That sounds like another rewording of “you must tolerate my intolerance” to me.

  • The Starship Maxima

    I can see how it comes off that way, but no, that’s not what it is.

    It is that we know history and we’re not willing to allow popular opinion to be the main determinant of what constitutes “the wrong opinions” because we’ve seen what it’s done in the past.

    Let’s be clear, some opinions, by law, are not tolerable. You cannot incite violence against a group of people, we call that hate speech.

    Saying “I think two men having sex with each other is morally wrong and I don’t condone it” falls outside that realm.

  • Tamra

    Spot on. Well done.

  • Nomad

    Wait, wait, did you just seriously say that if he was genuinely fired for his activism you think that the Christians who rallied in support of Robertson will be supporting Kluwe?

  • The Starship Maxima

    Yes, I did.

    What Christian could stand there with a straight face and defend Robertson who, as others have pointed out, got a slap on the wrist that actually turned into a boon for him, and leave Kluwe out to dry for arguing that “it’s not okay for gay teens to be committing suicide”??

    That would be a level of disgusting hypocrisy that would make the Pharisees jealous.

  • onamission5

    Phil has the legal right to say that and no one here is saying otherwise. What he does not have is the right to be free from criticism for his terrible, inaccurate, toxic ideas, or the right to be provided with a platform, or the right to be free from social consequences. He doesn’t have the right to uncritical support from the very people he harms with his free speech.

  • Nomad

    Sorry, that was directed at Maxima. He seemed to imply that he seriously believed that all those freedom of speech Christians who flipped out over the Robertson thing would be rallying behind Kluwe if it was ever established that he was dropped for what he said.

    I fully expect that they’d happily remain silent and even support him being blacklisted simply for his statements. Hell, it’s already established that they’re a bunch of disgusting hypocrites. I mean heck, shortly before Robertson said being gay is the same as having sex with animals and that black people were better off under Jim Crowe, he was scheduled to speak at a Christian event and was dropped in response to his selling a line of wines. The free speech fetishists didn’t give a damn about that one because it wasn’t about hating gay or black people, just in selling wine. So no one even heard of that one, even though he was literally prevented from speaking at an event.

  • jonhanson

    I wouldn’t be surprised if that was a big part of why he was dropped, but at the same time dude made like $3 million bucks over the last 2 years and had a 7 year career playing one of the least demanding positions in football. So all things considered I can’t really shed any tears


    This is probably close to what my views are in this. Performance “firing” of a punter, or even firing generally doesn’t really bother me, even for expressing (now) popularly endorsed views about human sexuality and civil equality therein.

    It’s whether the behavior described and involved was permitted, endorsed, or otherwise ignored by team officials. If that behavior can be corroborated, it’s likely Priefer won’t be coaching next year. I’d argue between that and the apparently weird system of player evaluation he used, he doesn’t really deserve to be either even as he has had some success with the special teams unit that he coaches for the team.

  • William C Rader

    I was merely observing that christian NFL palyers often talk about their religion,. I never claimed that anyone lost their job because of their religion or the lack thereof, even though I still hear christians saying that Tebow doesn’t have a starting QB job in the NFL because he expresses his religious beliefs.

  • Guest

    But he’s like… hot.

  • Jan Kafka

    The same as the anti-union crowd that boycotts the auto industry, Hollywood, and professional sports.

  • michaelfugate

    I agree that he could well be past his prime. I just don’t think you can be so sure of the facts of this as you claim to be. You seem to be saying that under no circumstances would he be let go because of his activism, but football appears very conservative and coaches are control freaks. It could happen – not saying it did. You could well be correct.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Like I said, you calling “harmful”, “toxic”, or “terrible” doesn’t make it so. And if A&E have the right to refuse to give Robertson a platform, then the Vikings have an identical right to not provide one to Kluwe.

    As it is, they seemed to allow Kluwe to say what he pleased. It looks like he got booted because his was obsolete.

  • WalterWhite007

    Christians in action always reminds me of Ghandi’s statement:

    I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.


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