Just as he predicted, Chris Kluwe was notified today that he has been released as punter for the Minnesota Vikings a year before his contract expires. He and many others have speculated that his very work as a very vocal straight ally for LGBT equality led to the decision.
“So long, Minnesota, and thanks for all the fish!” Kluwe tweeted after a meeting with Vikings general manager Spielman. “Thank you to all the fans, my teammates, and the Wilf family for the past 8.5 years. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.”
In a statement Spielman said Kluwe “contributed to many victories and we wish Chris and his family the best and thank him for his contributions to the Vikings organization.” Yet it’s another of Kluwe’s contributions —his work as an advocate for equality — which might have led to his dismissal.
Many non-sports enthusiasts first became aware of Kluwe when he coined the colorful phrase “lustful cockmonster” in a pro-equality letter that immediately went viral. The punter had written in response to Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr.’s suggestion that the owners of the Baltimore Ravens silence linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo after he voiced support for a Maryland ballot initiative that would legalize same-sex marriage in the state. Coincidentally (or not), Ayanbadejo was released from the Ravens last month.
In the months that followed Kluwe was interviewed and photographed for an Out cover story last October, appeared on Ellen and The Colbert Report and quickly gained a reputation as a very passionate ally for LGBT rights. Last December Vikings assistant coach Mike Priefer began to see this as a confict and said he hoped Kluwe would lay off the attention-getting proclamations.
“When I’m at the facility, I’m concentrating 100 percent on my job because that’s what I’m being paid to do,” Kluwe offered as a defense of the criticism. “But when I’m away from the facility, I’m no longer at my job. I get to live my life. This idea that you have to spend 24 hours a day thinking about your job frankly is unhealthy. It’s insane.”
Yet conservative skeptics didn’t deter Kluwe or slow down his advocacy. Next month will see publication of Kluwe’s first book of queer-friendly essays titled Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies and next month he’ll serve as grand marshal at Twin Cities Pride.
Last month the Vikings drafted Jeff Locke who is seen as a potential replacement for Kluwe. We know it won’t be long until he’s asked his thoughts on equality.