C.J.: Ellen gets a kick out of Chris Kluwe

  • Article by: C.J. , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 21, 2013 - 7:43 PM
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Chris Kluwe told Ellen DeGeneres he senses a “culture shift happening in the NFL.”

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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Chis Kluwe bounded onto "The Ellen Show" stage Friday with geeky, low-kicking dance moves that might've embarrassed some drum majors.

Although Rick James' "Super Freak" was the tune selected for the NFL player's entrance, I could practically hear "Seventy-Six Trombones" playing. A kicker not a dancer, though upon further review maybe those movements were hampered by the injury to Kluwe's non-kicking leg, which is due for repair.

Kluwe was a guest on the show because "I just think that you're incredible," Ellen DeGeneres said to the married father of two who's become an outspoken advocate of gay marriage rights.

Ellen, a Packers fan (although Kluwe's advocacy has her pulling for Vikings these days), asked what the reaction had been among his teammates.

"I had about half the guys [who] came up to me up to say, 'While we may not support you on the same-sex marriage issue, we support you on the freedom of speech stuff.' Then the other half was like, 'We support you on everything,'" said Kluwe. "That wasn't just guys from my team. I had guys from other teams come up to me during pre-game and say, 'Great job writing that letter.' I think there is a culture shift happening in the NFL."

The letter in question was a missive Kluwe wrote attacking a Maryland legislator who had criticized Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo's statement supporting gay marriage.

Kluwe said the letter with its "naughty language" -- likely to be prominent in the book of essays he's writing -- attracted more attention than he anticipated.

Given the trash talking in professional sports, Ellen wanted to know if an openly gay player "would be immediately picked on. Are they worried about getting hurt or getting kicked out of the league?'

Kluwe said, "I think it's more of a distraction issue in that it's so hard to make it to the NFL. It's maybe 1 percent of 1 percent of everyone who plays high school football will ever have a chance. Hopefully the stuff that Brendon's doing, that guys like Scott Fujita [of the Browns] is creating an environment where one day a player can feel I can be who I am and it won't affect my football playing because I'm here to play football."

Ellen played right into what the Vikings might call Kluwe's other favorite distraction: a campaign to get kicker Ray Guy voted into the Football Hall of Fame, as a sign of respect for punters. "It means a lot to me when people stand out and take a chance," Ellen said as she inducted Kluwe into what I guess is the Ellen Football Hall of Fame.

Ellen also said that Kluwe's wife, Isabel, "was right" to request that Chris pose shirtless for his Out magazine cover. "That's great that she told you to pose like that," said Ellen.

At the end of the show, Ellen took Kluwe out behind the studio to punt balls through a circle suspended above some buildings, where he earned $10,000 from Shutterfly for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Kluwe said he wanted to kick the first ball in so he could then "aim for those plate-glass windows."

Ellen said, "I can't even imagine that you're going to put it through there" as Kluwe kicked the first ball above the circle. Kluwe sent the second ball through the circle.

I did not know punters were as accurate as field goal kickers.

Bad boys grow up

Two famously undisciplined former members of the Vikings apparently needed the firm hand of a coach named Harbaugh to help them see the NFL light.

Randy Moss appears to have grown up under 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh while party boy Bryant McKinnie is enjoying the daylight outside of the Ravens coach John Harbaugh's doghouse. (Super Bowl 2013 should be "The Har Bowl," right?)

Some believe it takes longer for pro athletes to mature than others.

The NY Times' Jason Turbow wrote that Moss "has become an undisputed leader on what may be the NFL's best team" the 49ers; the headline referred to Moss as a, get this, "Role Model." The article also noted famous Moss gaffes: Squirting an official with a water bottle, loudly disparaging a post-practice meal in front of a Twin Cities area restaurant owner who catered it, an altercation with a Minneapolis traffic cop and stupid "I play when I want to play" remarks.  

But with the 49ers, the aging athlete isn't complaining about diminished playing time and he's acting more like a trainer with teammates. I have to give Moss credit for not being on "The Love Boat," that ill-conceived sex cruise captained, if you will, by McKinnie.

McKinnie playing in a Super Bowl in New Orleans has been the source of jokes on Twitter. But I'm betting that McKinnie will hold off the misbehavior until after the game, because he prefers the air outside John Harbaugh's doghouse.

Former Viking Matt Birk will also have a crack at a Super Bowl ring this year.

C.J. is at 612.332.TIPS or cj@startribune.com. E-mailers, please state a subject -- "Hello" doesn't count. Attachments are not opened, so don't even try. More of her attitude can be seen Thursday mornings on FOX 9.

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  • Ex-Viking Randy Moss appears to have grown up under 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.

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