Former Minnesota Vikings Punter Chris Kluwe Rips Management For His Release
One thing we all came to learn about former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe during the eight years he kicked in Minnesota was that, thanks to social media, you never had to guess what he was thinking - about anything.
Kluwe's outspoken views on his Twitter feed ranged observations from every angle of life, not just football. He talked about pop culture, video games, even food, as well as his take on all things NFL.
But it was when Kluwe waded into politics and same-sex marriage that, he says, his playing status with the Vikings began to suffer.
In an article titled 'I Was An NFL Player Until I Was Fired By Two Cowards And A Bigot' on Deadspin.com, Kluwe writes about his 2012 decision to publicly oppose the proposed Minnesota Gay Marriage Amendment, which would have defined marriage as 'only a union of one man and one woman.'
The amendment eventually failed and gay marriage is now legal in Minnesota, but Kluwe says the damage inside the Vikings headquarters was already done.
He chronicles meetings with then head coach Leslie Frazier, who, according to Kluwe, told him he:
...needed to be quiet, and stop speaking out on this stuff...
Kluwe also says Frazier relayed some advice he had received when he was a player:
...a wise coach once told me there are two things you don't talk about in the NFL, politics and religion.
Kluwe also accuses the Vikings Public Relations staff of purposely withholding interview requests for him about his stance on gay marriage, from national media outlets .
Some of Kluwe's harshest comments are about current Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer. Kluwe says his former coach:
...would use homophobic language in my presence. He would ask me if I had written any letters defending 'the gays' recently and denounce as disgusting the idea that two men would kiss, and he would constantly belittle or demean any idea of acceptance or tolerance...(he) 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.
Kluwe also says Vikings general manager Rick Spielman sent him a text message in February of 2013 asking him to 'please fly under the radar', after Kluwe had tweeted about Pope Benedict XVI stepping down. He claims Spielman later called him and:
...asked me to stop tweeting about the Pope because angry people were ringing up team headquarters.
Kluwe says he knew his time with the Vikings was quickly coming to an end in April, when Minnesota picked UCLA punter Jeff Locke in the fifth round, despite a 2012 season which saw Kluwe post his highest punting average (39.7 yards) ever as a member of the Vikings.
Nine days later, he was released.
Kluwe's takeaway from the ordeal:
It's my belief, based on everything that happened over the course of 2012, that I was fired by Mike Priefer, a bigot who didn't agree with the cause I was working for, and two cowards, Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman, both of whom knew I was a good punter and would remain a good punter for the foreseeable future, as my numbers over my eight-year career had shown, but who lacked the fortitude to disagree with Mike Priefer on a touchy subject matter.
Nine days after being released by the Vikings, Kluwe signed a veteran minimum one-year contract with the Oakland Raiders.
He was released September 1st and sat out the the entire 2013 season.
Late Thursday, the Vikings issued a statement concerning Kluwe's allegations:
The Minnesota Vikings were made aware of Chris Kluwe’s allegations for the first time today. We take them very seriously and will thoroughly review this matter.
As an organization, the Vikings consistently strive to create a supportive, respectful and accepting environment for all of our players, coaches and front office personnel. We do not tolerate discrimination at any level. The team has long respected our players’ and associates’ individual rights, and, as Chris specifically stated, Vikings ownership supports and promotes tolerance, including on the subject of marriage equality. Because he was identified with the Vikings, Chris was asked to be respectful while expressing his opinions. Team ownership and management also repeatedly emphasized to Chris that the Vikings would not impinge on his right to express his views.
Any notion that Chris was released from our football team due to his stance on marriage equality is entirely inaccurate and inconsistent with team policy. Chris was released strictly based on his football performance.
We will have further comment at the appropriate time.