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Was Chris Kluwe Cut From Minnesota Vikings Due To His Equality Work?

Kluwe

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.

By:           JEREMY KINSER
On:           May 6, 2013
Tagged: , , ,
  • 21 Comments
    • mramseymd
      mramseymd

      I’m really troubled that BOTH Kluwe and Ayanbadejo were let go, Kluwe before his contract was up. I have no proof of motivation. But it certainly looks bad to the next person who might be considering becoming an ally.

      May 6, 2013 at 7:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • hephaestion
      hephaestion

      We can be fired just for being gay and heteros can be fired for supporting equality for us. But they can’t take this away: That Chris Kluwe is a hero. He will always have my respect, long after the Vikings coaches are all dead and forgotten.
      Kluwe will have a bright future and I look forward to buying his book!

      May 6, 2013 at 7:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Polaro
      Polaro

      Apparently being vocally gay friendly is career ending in sports.

      May 6, 2013 at 7:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ferris8
      Ferris8

      The sad answer is Yes. Don’t let anyone try to tell you it was a strictly football
      reason.

      May 6, 2013 at 7:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • avesraggiana
      avesraggiana

      Man…this is bad news. Does Kluwe have any other offers in the offing? Eight and a half years is a long time in the NFL but I would think as a punter, he’d have a few more years of play left in him.

      May 6, 2013 at 7:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Aries3dc
      Aries3dc

      The reason that Chris predicted he would be released today is because anyone who actually follows football could have predicted this. He was set to earn far more money than he’s worth. And despite his pro-gay stance, Chris was only an average punter. He wasn’t even in the top 10 of the NFC. NFL general managers keep the best available players, and MIN drafted a punter that it believes is better than Chris Kluwe. End of story.

      May 6, 2013 at 7:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • avesraggiana
      avesraggiana

      He joins good company in being let go after this season, Ayanbadejo and Tebow. Tebow IS gay, he just doesn’t know it yet.

      May 6, 2013 at 7:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jerbear
      jerbear

      @hephaestion: Well said. The first to a cause are often sacrificed by the bigots to try to keep everyone else in line. I feel that this is our year though. I applaude our straight allies for their bravery and will support them in every endeavor they undertake. I also can’t wait to buy Kluwe’s book!

      May 6, 2013 at 9:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • sanfranguy
      sanfranguy

      He was a total distraction to the team and deserved to get cut from the Vikings. He seemed very self serving in my opinion.

      May 6, 2013 at 10:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • gcd2020
      gcd2020

      It was mostly, if not totally, a football decision – he was simply overpaid for an average punter. The real story is whether Kerry Rhodes, one of the best safeties in football last year – and almost certainly gay – remains unsigned.

      May 6, 2013 at 10:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • hyhybt
      hyhybt

      I don’t know enough about football to say, except that I hope some other team picks him up. But having heard him on both The Colbert Report and Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!, his intelligence doesn’t match the football stereotype. I realize many players *are* intelligent, of course, but they don’t get much exposure for their smarts. Maybe he didn’t fit in for that reason.

      May 6, 2013 at 11:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jamesbarnette
      jamesbarnette

      Let’s see, the NFL was just busted for asking prospects if they’re gay and they just “let go” two supporters of gay rights.

      Hmm, on one hand they love to tell us how they would welcome a gay player but on the other hand they’re making it loud and clear that’s obviously not the case.

      May 7, 2013 at 12:35 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • M
      M

      @sanfranguy:

      “Self-serving”?

      So I guess you’re talking about most football players, then?

      That doesn’t excuse Chris’ cut, though.

      May 7, 2013 at 2:09 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mramseymd
      mramseymd

      Sanfran, this wasn’t self-serving, this was serving his fellow man, in their struggle for equality. Not selfish…noble. He will have a lucrative future if he chooses. Speaking circuit, endorsements, write book/s, etc. We’ll take good care of him, as he did us.

      May 7, 2013 at 5:04 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tdx3fan
      tdx3fan

      @hephaestion: Kluwe was not fired. He was let go before his contract was up, which means he will get (most likely) full pay for another year even though he is not part of the team (depending on his contract). Its a huge difference.

      May 7, 2013 at 9:17 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tdx3fan
      tdx3fan

      @Polaro: You mean to tell me that going against your fans (which are mostly homophobic redneck assholes) is a bad thing to do!?! I’m SHOCKED! If there is any solace in this, the redneck homophobe is a quickly dying breed, and football is a quickly dying sport. You can not stop progress!

      May 7, 2013 at 9:18 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tdx3fan
      tdx3fan

      @Polaro: @Ferris8: Football is mostly marketed to redneck assholes. It is a football reason in that he made the brand less marketable. Thankfully, much like the decline of redneck assholes, football is also in decline.

      May 7, 2013 at 9:19 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • miagoodguy
      miagoodguy

      Too bad people are making ridiculous comments about these players being let go because of their support of gay marriage. If you actually did your research and looked at their stats, productivity, age, and salary, then the teams dumping them is a no-brainer. IT is football related. The NFL is a business and they will keep players they believe will help them win.

      May 7, 2013 at 10:13 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • GayTampaCowboy
      GayTampaCowboy

      Yea, it was a “football” decision – NOT! Why not have 2 punters? The NY Jets have 5, that’s 5 BACKUP quarterbacks, and that’s after they release Tim Tebow. So don’t blow smoke up my jockstrap and tell me he was released because he’s an “average” punter. This was about removing a vocal player – a punter – from the team.

      From a PR perspective, this was a VERY BAD move for the Vikings. The $1+ million dollar salary they were paying him was/would have been more than balanced by the great PR the team (and city) would receive from supporting a heterosexual professional athlete who was also an advocate for marriage rights. But, what’s done is done – now the chips will fall where they may.

      The question is, and similar to Ayanbadejo whow as release and Chris Collins who just came out as a gay NBA player, will any team pick them up.

      As public opinion continues to rapidly change in support of gay marriage rights, professional sports teams NOW have to take a long look at their public persona and the often mixed messages they send. They support and retain athletes who are guilty of doping, taking drugs, gun possession charge and a mix of other felonys. Yet, these men now find themselves in professional purgatory – will any team step up? Only time will tell.

      But, what’s really getting me concerned is that as the debate about gay rights, out players and such, is how many sports fans, pundants and critics seem to justify the releases based on the fact that these athletes are not “STARS” in their profession.

      I mean, think about how many young men and women work for decades to actually get drafted and PLAY a professional sport. There are only a handful of “star” performers – not everyone can be a Payton Manning. And even more puzzling is how so many seem to be saying, Well, when a player with the calibur like a Manning or Marino come out, THEN it will be something. What message is that sending? If you’re not a STAR Gay athlete, then you’re just coming out or speaking out to boost your career or for PR purposes. And, that if you’re NOT the STAR player, you can have a position on a social issue but you best keep it to yourself.

      Only time will tell how ownership and management of professional sports teams will respond to what’s happening now, but I WILL be watching – and will make my ticket purchases (and viewing practices accordingly).

      May 7, 2013 at 10:20 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • fredo777
      fredo777

      @sanfranguy: “He was a total distraction to the team and deserved to get cut from the Vikings. He seemed very self serving in my opinion.”

      Self-serving in what way? Was he gay? He could just as easily have kept his mouth shut + continued playing/getting paid as usual.

      May 7, 2013 at 12:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • miagoodguy
      miagoodguy

      Once again, talking conspiracy and hate makes for a better story than the fact that both these players’ careers are in decline.

      May 7, 2013 at 12:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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