Chris Kluwe’s Allegations and Activism
Of course teams will cut a player if he's a distraction and isn’t an irreplaceable part. You don’t see many quarterbacks cut because they have big mouths or are on the side of an issue that might cause agitation for their bosses. But a punter? Was Kluwe an integral part of the Vikings and would losing him mean the difference between success and failure? If the punter is the key to the season, then the team has far more problems than those a good or bad punter can solve. The rank-and-file players think kickers and punters should be seen and not heard – many don’t even consider them to be actual football players. In fact, the placekicker is far more important to a team’s success or failure than the punter is. It’s harder to find a reliable kicker than it is a punter.
So why is there even a debate regarding the Vikings dumping Kluwe other than Kluwe’s conspiracy theories? Because Kluwe is making these statements and getting back into the spotlight.
In the NFL today, the average amount of time the current punters on every team’s roster has spent with a single team is slightly over four years. That’s including the likes of Shane Lechler who was with the Raiders for 13 years; Mike Scifres who has been with the Chargers for 11 years; Dustin Colquitt who has been with the Chiefs for nine years; Andy Lee, who’s been with the 49ers for a decade; and Brian Moorman who spent 11 years with the Bills. For the most part, they last about three years and teams move on.
Punters can be found. If one’s good, he hangs around. If he’s not, he’s replaced. It’s short and it’s fleeting. The fact with Kluwe is that the performance was no longer there; the Vikings had the opportunity to save $1 million; and yes, Kluwe was probably giving the team headaches with his political activism. Kluwe defends his statistics in Deadspin, but it takes the tone of the released player in Bull Durham saying, “I hit the ball hard today!” Athletes are generally seeing themselves in a different light than the blue light of reality where all the stains are visible. They don’t want to admit they’re not what they once were, so they find ways to justify or explain away why they’ve declined.
As for his activism, of course it was an issue. Teams will tolerate a player with a big mouth if he’s:
A) helping the team
B) not hurting the brand
C) not distracting the rest of the organization
Kluwe was a negative in A, B and C.