Chris Kluwe Says He Punted Well in Surf City as Vikings Plotted to Cut Him for Pro-Gay Stance
Chris Kluwe--the former NFL punter, pride of Los Alamitos High, part-time Huntington Beach resident and owner of a Costa Mesa hobby shop--has posted on article online that is turning nearly as many heads as his widely publicized September 2012 post in support of gay marriage.
In his latest article, Kluwe dissects his May 2013 release by the Minnesota Vikings and concludes--as the headline puts it--"I Was An NFL Player Until I Was Fired By Two Cowards And A Bigot."
Like "They Won't Magically Turn You Into A Lustful Cockmonster," Kluwe's Sept. 7, 2012, open letter to Maryland delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr., Kluwe's explosive allegations about the Vikings were posted on the wascally sports site Deadspin.com, which periodically runs the former NFL player's columns.
In the post, Kluwe presents in diary form the locker-room events that led up to his being cut by the team. The married father writes that while some teammates let him know they did not support his stand supporting gay weddings, everyone in pads stuck up for his right to speak his mind. Kluwe also claims to have received verbal support from a Vikings owner.
But it's clear from the reporting of the player--who says he is the best punter statistically that the Vikings have ever had on their roster--that since-fired coach Leslie Frazier did not appreciate Kluwe's public stance in favor of gay marriage. Kluwe relates meetings in Frazier's office where the head coach asked him to turn it back a notch. Kluwe makes a similar accusation about Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, who is claimed to have told the punter to "fly under the radar" after Kluwe tweeted about Catholic Church corruption as Pope Benedict XVI stepped down.
The harshest criticism is reserved for special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer, who Kluwe writes made increasingly nasty anti-gay remarks after the punter's first Deadspin post--remarks the assistant coach had never made before in his presence.
Near the end of November, several teammates and I were walking into a specialist meeting with Coach Priefer. We were laughing over one of the recent articles I had written supporting same-sex marriage rights, and one of my teammates made a joking remark about me leading the Pride parade. As we sat down in our chairs, Mike Priefer, in one of the meanest voices I can ever recall hearing, said: "We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows." The room grew intensely quiet, and none of the players said a word for the rest of the meeting. The atmosphere was decidedly tense. I had never had an interaction that hostile with any of my teammates on this issue--some didn't agree with me, but our conversations were always civil and respectful. Afterward, several told me that what Mike Priefer had said was "messed up."
Priefer and Frazier would go on during the season to express disappointment with Kluwe's punting performance. Kluwe admitted to having some bad games, but noted his yardage averages were around career levels despite pain in his knee. He also claims Priefer directed him to punt the ball higher and less deep to help those trying to get under the punts and tackle the return man, something Kluwe says he agreed to do even though he knew it would hurt his production numbers.
It became clear to Kluwe near the end of the season that the team would bring in competition for him at the punter position this season, something he writes he welcomed even after undergoing off-season knee surgery.
In March and early April, I spent three to four days a week kicking at the local sports complex near my house in Huntington Beach, Calif., where I lived with my family during the offseason. I felt that I had returned to my in-season form and was quite pleased with my progress.
But it became clear to him he would be released when the Vikings used a fifth-round pick in the draft to take a punter, despite more glaring needs at other positions. He would go on to be waived, picked up by the Raiders and waived again near the end of preseason.
The Vikings issued this response to the Deadspin piece Thursday afternoon:
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.
So they take Kluwe's allegations very seriously and will thoroughly review this matter but have already concluded he was released strictly based on his football performance? Hmmm ...
Kluwe gave two reasons for waiting until now to release his explosive accusations: He did not want to create a distraction for friends he still has in the organization before their season was over, and he wants to ensure now that Frazier has been fired that pressure mounts to prevent Priefer from getting the head coaching job. Kluwe says neither belong on the sidelines.