Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe has been out of the NFL since May of 2013. Recently he published an article with the help of Deadspin saying he was released from the Vikings mostly for his views on same-sex marriage and the fact that one of his coaches disagreed with him on those views. He also believes Vikings head coach at the time Leslie Frazier was too much of coward to stand up and keep the eight year veteran on the team.
Kluwe joined Nick Wright and John Lopez In The Loop to talk about the entire situation, the backlash from the article and the fact that he still doesn’t have a job despite being a good NFL player.
In 2012 Kluwe spoke out against a bill in Minnesota that was to make it illegal for same sex couples to get married. The punter knew his views weren’t shared by everyone on the Vikings staff, he didn’t know it would get him released from the team.
“I knew it was a possible end, but I figured if I punted well and did what they wanted me to do then I would still be a valuable part of the team and the issue would be over,” Klwue told In The Loop’s Nick & Lopez Friday morning. “Apparently that wasn’t to be the case.”
Kluwe also thinks that the pro gay equality message is a big issue within the NFL.
“I don’t know if the team would have kept me if the message was different. I think it is really unfortunate that in the NFL it seems like you can do a wide variety of awful things but if you speak out on a social issue then that’s what appears to be the bright line. The ‘hey you can’t cross that’. What does that say about our priorities? We’d rather have felons and racists and abusers then someone speaking out on issues.”
Those thoughts make Kluwe question if he even wants to come back to the National Football League.
“I don’t know if I want to deal with the unreality of the NFL anymore. It really is this bubble of people who think actions have no consequences and they can act however they want.”
If he did want to come back Kluwe isn’t sure if anyone would want him, now.
“I don’t know if there are any owners or head coaches out there that are willing to deal with everything that comes along with (signing me).”
Kluwe isn’t surprised no other players have come to his defense. He points to Kerry Rhodes and his possible homosexuality as a reason the former Cardinals safety can’t find a job.
“This still is the NFL and while progress has been made on these issues, there is still a lot of progress yet to be made. Being blackballed in the NFL is a very real thing. Just ask Kerry Rhodes about that.”
Rhodes hasn’t been signed to an NFL team after this off-season it appears he was ‘outed’ on the internet to be gay. Kluwe believes the perception around the NFL is that he is gay and that is the only reason he is not currently playing.
“I don’t know if it true or not,” Kluwe said of Rhodes not getting a job this season in the NFL. “I look at numbers. I look at statistics. I look at what people have done. What their actions say. The fact that Kerry Rhodes, who is a safety, who is very successful, and who presumably can still play at a very high level, cause I don’t think he suffered any debilitating accidents between last year and this year; somehow can’t find a job when secondaries are struggling across the entire league. To me that is the numbers. That is the flat out truth and what does that say?”
The coach that Kluwe had the biggest problem with at the Vikings was special teams coach Mike Priefer. In his article on Deadspin Kluwe says during a meeting Priefer made a very violent statement about homosexuals, “We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.”
“I knew right away if I said something then it would escalate into a screaming match and that would be it,” Kluwe told SportsRadio 610 on Friday on why he didn’t say anything to Priefer. “We’d be done.”
Priefer has denied that he ever said what Kluwe is accusing him of, but Kluwe stands by his statement and challenged Priefer to take him to court in a defamation suit to let the facts come out in court if he really believes that. While Kluwe is okay with being sued by Priefer he says he doesn’t want to sue the Vikings, because he doesn’t “have anything against the Minnesota Vikings.” He enjoyed his time there and would prefer not to sue the team as it would bring more bad light on the organization.
Kluwe’s career is most likely over, at the age of 32, but he doesn’t regret anything.
“No, no I don’t regret it, because to me this was something that was worth the potential risk,” Kluwe said of his career ending early. “If people think that just because we’re having a conversation on same sex rights that means we’ve succeeded, well then that’s not going to change anything. If people are still allowed to discriminate. If people are still allowed to treat other people like garbage then you haven’t solved anything at all.”