Wednesday, former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and his attorneys will enter a Minnesota courtroom to file suit against the Vikings for, among other claims, defamation and religious discrimination. Tuesday morning Kluwe joined Paul and myself as the Bstraw & PaulyG Show subbed for In the Loop [INTERVIEW]. Why religious discrimination is included among the charges Chris said will come out during the legal process.
At the heart of this increasingly ugly fight between the punter – who’s long been an advocate for gay rights – and the Vikings is the teams lack of transparency following an investigation of his claims of being cut because of his political activism regarding gay rights and not because of his on-field performance. The investigation resulted in a three-game suspension for Special Teams coach Mike Priefer, over what Kluwe considers a complete systemic failure of the organization in dealing with Priefer’s homophobic remarks. In particular is this alleged statement by Priefer, “We should round up all the gays, send the to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.”
The Vikings commissioned the investigation regarding Kluwe’s claims but – according to Chris – chose to release only a 29 page summary rather than the complete 150 page report, which included 116 pages of footnotes. During the interview Kluwe said the lack of transparency is a clear indication of not only the Vikings but the NFL’s concern that the full report will highlight a league-wide culture of discrimination toward gays.
Tuesday, Tony Dungy, the former NFL head coach and current co-host of NBC’s Football Night in America told the Tampa Tribune he would not have drafted Michael Sam, who has become the first openly gay player to be drafted in the NFL. (Sam was drafted in the 7th round of the 2014 draft by the St. Louis Rams.) Dungy says he thinks Michael Sam should have the opportunity to play in the NFL, but he wouldn’t want to deal with all of the distractions that would come with having an openly gay player. Kluwe told SportsRadio 610 he doesn’t understand the difference between the distractions a gay player might create and the distractions Johnny Manziel has brought to Cleveland since being drafted in the first round by the Browns.
That comment certainly creates a lively debate, but any debate must also include the obvious fact that many NFL general managers believe – at least at this point – that Johnny Football’s on-field performance outweigh the off-field distractions. As a seventh-round pick that argument might be harder to make for Michael Sam supporters.
What also hurts Kluwe’s assertion of a league-wide culture of intolerance are allegations that Kluwe made fun of former Vikings strength coach Tom Kanavy, a Penn State alum for former PSU coach concerning the Jerry Sandusky situation. In the summary of the investigation the Vikings released Kanavy says Kluwe cut out the seat of his pants and then said he was a “Penn State victim” and to “stay away” from his rear end while it was exposed. Kluwe told us he was sorry for the jokes he made about Sandusky and those that were offended by them.
Last Friday, Kluwe tweeted an insinuation that two well known Viking players were caught in a compromising situation with an underage girl. When I asked if he should’ve brought the wrongdoing to local authorities rather than use it as a tool to win his case against the Vikings, he claimed I was jumping to conclusions to assume that a “compromising position” equated to an illegal act. From my perspective, insinuating wrongdoing – though apparently not illegal – on behalf of Viking players with an underage girl, costs credibility if not sympathy in the court of public opinion.
Guess we’ll have to wait until the legal process begins on Wednesday to know how much Kluwe is above the discrimination and intolerance he believes is the culture of every NFL locker room.