Chris Kluwe's blockbuster allegations against the Vikings after his support of gay marriage

Chris Kluwe’s Allegations and Activism

1/3/14 in NFL   |   PAULLEBOWITZ   |   109 respect

There’s something slightly off between Chris Kluwe’s initial reaction to the Vikings cutting him last May May 20, 2013; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders punter Chris Kluwe (5) at organized team activities at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports and this article he wrote for Deadspin, published yesterday. The title of the Deadspin piece, “I Was An NFL Player Before I Was Fired By Two Cowards And A Bigot” leaves no ambiguity as to what Kluwe is implying. Given Kluwe’s desperation for attention, he seems to be searching for excuses for being dispatched by the Vikings and for his inability to find another job in the NFL.
 
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. 
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1/5/14   |   PAULLEBOWITZ   |   109 respect

Eric_ wrote:
So, because Kluwe's an NFL player, and not an elite one, he's not allowed to express his opinions?

Whether or not Kluwe's allegation are true, there is some smoke here. Brendon Ayanbadejo got cut this spring and hasn't found an NFL job either. Jason Collins hasn't found an NBA job. There are other explanations for that, but that's a big a pattern as we have.

Also, there's Jay Feely, who's pretty similar to Kluwe, in that he's an above average kicker, but not one of the best. However, Feely is a pretty overt Tea Partier who's been on Fox News many times. His outspokenness doesn't seem to be hurting his career.

You just explained it perfectly in your last sentence and I mentioned it in my piece. Football people tend to be conservative. Comparing how they'll react to someone spouting Tea Party talking points and how they'll react to a player openly supporting gay marriage is clear in the results. 

He can say whatever he wants. Nobody's stopping him. Because he's not an elite player and is playing a position that can be filled easily and cheaply, he's disposable. That holds true for any player who is causing aggravation for any reason, not just gay rights. If it was a player who was getting caught for DUIs or was repeatedly in places he shouldn't be doing things he shouldn't be doing, his status would absolutely be taken into account as to whether he's kept on the team. The NFL is a caste system. Adrian Peterson can make comments about gay marriage and the Vikings will stay silent. Chris Kluwe does it and he gets cut. He's the punter. Nobody wants to hear the punter's mouth.   

Look at the players you're talking about in addition to Kluwe. Ayanbadejo said himself he wasn't cut for his outspokenness on gay rights. He's 37. How many 37-year-old linebackers are there playing in the NFL? You said yourself there are "other explanations" for Jason Collins. If "Star Player X" is in his prime or "Key Role Player Y" announces he's gay, he gets a job. Jason Collins, age 35 and a journeyman backup who would bring a load of unwanted and unneeded attention with him, doesn't get signed. It's no mystery and teams have every right to do it for the sake of their team and their business. 

Kluwe can be cut for his big mouth regardless of the subject matter. It happens all the time. 

1/5/14   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

So, because Kluwe's an NFL player, and not an elite one, he's not allowed to express his opinions?

Whether or not Kluwe's allegation are true, there is some smoke here. Brendon Ayanbadejo got cut this spring and hasn't found an NFL job either. Jason Collins hasn't found an NBA job. There are other explanations for that, but that's a big a pattern as we have.

Also, there's Jay Feely, who's pretty similar to Kluwe, in that he's an above average kicker, but not one of the best. However, Feely is a pretty overt Tea Partier who's been on Fox News many times. His outspokenness doesn't seem to be hurting his career.