Scoggins: If Kluwe is cut, the loss will be ours

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 5, 2013 - 12:03 AM

The punter isn’t afraid to speak his mind, and yes, that is a good thing.

hide

Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe.

Chris Kluwe’s tenure as Vikings punter will end soon. He knows it, the team knows it, everyone knows it. It’s just a matter of executing the paperwork.

“Most teams generally don’t draft a punter in the fifth round unless that’s who they’re going to go with,” Kluwe said. “They said they would let me know Monday after the rookie minicamp.”

Kluwe’s fate was sealed the moment the Vikings drafted UCLA punter Jeff Locke. General Manager Rick Spielman talked about creating competition, but Kluwe won’t be around long enough to participate in that competition.

Unless Locke flops in the rookie minicamp or assumes the fetal position over the prospect of being inside an NFL locker room, the job is his and Kluwe moves on.

Regardless of whether they admit it, the Vikings are jettisoning Kluwe partly because they grew tired of his outspokenness. It’s naive to think the move is based solely on his age (31), salary ($1.45 million) or how he performed last season (inconsistently). Kluwe has become the most visible punter in NFL history because of his social activism. The Vikings deny that Kluwe’s public stance on issues factored into their decision — not that they would ever admit it — but they likely prefer someone who embraces the anonymous life of an NFL punter.

That’s entirely their prerogative, of course. Teams release players all the time for any number of reasons. The Vikings unloaded Percy Harvin because they basically thought he was a head case and too unpredictable.

Kluwe has developed a wide audience and become a polarizing figure as a staunch advocate for same-sex marriage. Whether it’s gay rights, player safety or Ray Guy’s omission from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Kluwe isn’t afraid to voice his opinion. And he refuses to apologize for that, even if it contributes to his exit.

“This is me,” he said. “I pay attention to what goes on in the world, and I like to speak up when I see something.”

Kluwe’s expected release could result in some backlash by fans who applaud his support of same-sex marriage. A handful of teams need punters, so he could find a job elsewhere. Kluwe also understands that teams might pass on him because they view him as a distraction. He believes he has four or five good seasons left as a punter, but he refuses to muffle his activism just to get a job.

“I think the sacrifice would be worth it,” he said. “Now, I would hope that I would get the chance to play football again, because I think I can still play. But if it ends up being something that costs me that position, I think making people aware of an issue that is causing children to commit suicide is more important than kicking a leather ball.”

Kluwe’s support of same-sex marriage has landed him appearances on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show’’ and “The Colbert Report.’’ He’s been interviewed by CNN, MSNBC and the BBC and posed for OUT Magazine. He has nearly 170,000 Twitter followers (about 40,000 more than Christian Ponder). Name another NFL team in which the punter has more Twitter followers than the quarterback.

Kluwe’s departure will make the Vikings locker room a lot more dull because he is incredibly intelligent, articulate and passionate about societal issues. He’s a fascinating individual in a sport that breeds conformity. The NFL has become so big and so powerful that players often cling to political correctness for fear that a ripple might swell into a tidal wave. Kluwe is that surfer dude on top of the wave, hanging 10 on any issue that stirs his emotion.

“No single thing that I do defines me as a person,” he said. “Just because I play football, that doesn’t define me as a person.”

OK, he can be a little rebellious, too. In response to special teams coordinator Mike Priefer’s public admonishment that Kluwe needs to “focus on punting” after his Ray Guy uniform display, Kluwe began finishing tweets with the hashtag #sofocused. But it’s absurd when people blame a bad punt on the belief that Kluwe is too distracted by his activism.

“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 said. “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.”

Kluwe enjoys myriad pursuits. He has written his first book that’s scheduled to be released June 25. The book is titled “Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies” and features a collection of short stories and essays based on rational empathy.

“Societies that don’t nurture empathy as a worthwhile trait inevitably collapse because they foster discord and conflict within themselves, and that eventually brings them down,” he said.

Kluwe envisions a writing career post-football. He’s also been contacted by political operatives to gauge his interest in politics. “I hate politics,” he noted.

  • related content

  • Poll: Is Chris Kluwe being treated fairly by the Vikings

    Sunday May 5, 2013

  • Vikings' punting battle might be over

    Saturday May 4, 2013

    Leslie Frazier compared the punting competition to last year’s brief kicking duel.

  • Chris Kluwe isn’t about to apologize for his outspoken ways. “This is me,” he said. “I pay attention to what goes on in the world, and I like to speak up when I see something.”

  • Kluwe threw his support to former Raider Ray Guy, who’s considered the best punter in NFL history but isn’t in the Hall of Fame.

  • Kluwe, an eight-year NFL veteran, averaged 45.0 yards per punt and had a 39.7-yard net average in 2012.

  • Vikings punter Chris Kluwe spoke out against the marriage amendment on the Minnesota ballot last fall, including an appearance at the University of Minnesota on Oc.t 29. His support of same-sex marriage has put him in the national spotlight.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Minnesota 35 FINAL
Miami 37
Baltimore 13 FINAL
Houston 25
Detroit 20 FINAL
Chicago 14
Cleveland 13 FINAL
Carolina 17
Atlanta 30 FINAL
New Orleans 14
Green Bay 20 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Kansas City 12 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
New England 17 FINAL
NY Jets 16
NY Giants 37 FINAL
St. Louis 27
Buffalo 24 FINAL
Oakland 26
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Dallas 42
Seattle 35 FINAL
Arizona 6
Denver 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Denver 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Portland 7:00 PM
Houston
Utah 7:00 PM
Memphis
Toronto 7:00 PM
Chicago
Atlanta 7:30 PM
Dallas
LA Clippers 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Sacramento 9:30 PM
Golden State
Ottawa 6:00 PM
Washington
Nashville 6:00 PM
Columbus
Pittsburgh 6:30 PM
Florida
Arizona 9:00 PM
Vancouver
San Jose 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Calgary 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Ark-Little Rock 1:00 PM
Bradley
Brown 1:00 PM
Central Conn St
Stetson 1:00 PM
Florida State
Ill-Chicago 1:00 PM
Northwestern
Ohio 1:30 PM
George Washington
Southern Utah 2:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Elon 2:00 PM
Kennesaw St
Dartmouth 3:00 PM
Penn State
Green Bay 3:30 PM
UC Irvine
DePaul 3:30 PM
Colorado
Lewis & Clark 4:00 PM
Portland
SC State 4:30 PM
Abilene Christian
Manhattan 5:00 PM
Fordham
Truett-McConnell 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Citadel 5:00 PM
Michigan State
Miami-Ohio 5:00 PM
Ohio State
Gardner-Webb 5:00 PM
Purdue
Idaho 5:00 PM
Northern Ky
Fairfield 6:00 PM
Albany
North Dakota St 6:00 PM
Alcorn State
UT Martin 6:00 PM
Butler
SE Louisiana 6:00 PM
UCF
Oakland 6:00 PM
Clemson
Florida A&M 6:00 PM
East Carolina
Eastern Ky 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
IUPU-Ft Wayne 6:00 PM
Illinois State
Norfolk State 6:00 PM
James Madison
Binghamton 6:00 PM
Mount St Marys
Towson 6:00 PM
Navy
Long Island 6:00 PM
New Hampshire
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Notre Dame
William & Mary 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
Liberty 6:00 PM
Princeton
Delaware 6:00 PM
Robert Morris
MD-Eastern Shore 6:00 PM
St Bonaventure
Colgate 6:00 PM
Syracuse
Kansas 6:00 PM
Temple
Mercer 6:00 PM
Tennessee
East Tenn St 6:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
Va Military 6:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Bucknell 6:00 PM
Wake Forest
Alabama A&M 6:00 PM
Western Mich
New Orleans 6:05 PM
Indiana
Columbia 6:30 PM
Connecticut
Long Beach State 6:30 PM
St Johns
Wofford 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Southern U 7:00 PM
Baylor
UAB 7:00 PM
Chattanooga
Char Southern 7:00 PM
Colorado State
North Florida 7:00 PM
Iowa
NC Central 7:00 PM
Jackson State
Rice 7:00 PM
Lamar
Central Mich 7:00 PM
McNeese State
Coppin State 7:00 PM
Michigan
Furman 7:00 PM
Minnesota
SE Missouri St 7:00 PM
Ole Miss
Weber State 7:00 PM
Oklahoma
Grambling St 7:00 PM
TCU
Loyola-Chicago 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
Incarnate Word 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Penn 7:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Chicago State 7:00 PM
SIU Edwardsville
Simpson 7:05 PM
Drake
Tenn Tech 7:05 PM
UMKC
Murray State 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
Oral Roberts 7:05 PM
Missouri State
Jacksonville St 8:00 PM
Air Force
Milwaukee 8:00 PM
Arkansas
Wisconsin 8:00 PM
California
Coll of Charleston 8:00 PM
LSU
North Dakota 8:00 PM
Marquette
Northern New Mexico 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
UC Santa Barbara 8:00 PM
Oregon
Miami-Florida 8:00 PM
Providence
Northeastern 8:00 PM
St Marys-CA
Kent State 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
UC Davis 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
Lewis-Clark State 8:05 PM
Eastern Wash
Walla Walla 8:05 PM
Portland State
TX A&M-CC 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Marshall 9:00 PM
Nevada
Boise State 9:30 PM
Houston
UC Riverside 10:00 PM
San Diego St
Tulane 10:00 PM
Washington
Loyola Marymount 10:00 PM
Wichita State
Nebraska 12/23/14 12:00 AM
Hawaii
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
UMass Lowell 14 1st Half 10:18
Holy Cross 20
Temple 3 1st Half 18:13
Villanova 5
Georgia Southern 11:00 AM
Southern U
Xavier 11:00 AM
Kennesaw St
Eastern Michigan 11:00 AM
Michigan
Brescia 12:00 PM
Marshall
(22) West Virginia 1:00 PM
Ohio State
UMBC 1:00 PM
MD-Eastern Shore
Cornell 1:00 PM
Loyola-Maryland
St Bonaventure 1:00 PM
Georgetown
New Hampshire 1:00 PM
Northeastern
Eastern Washington 1:30 PM
Florida
Rice 2:00 PM
Texas Southern
Butler 3:05 PM
Illinois State
UC Davis 4:00 PM
(7) Stanford
Washington St 4:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
Sacramento St 4:00 PM
San Jose St
SIU-Edwardsville 4:30 PM
UMKC
Oakland 6:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Belmont 6:00 PM
(15) Georgia
George Mason 6:00 PM
Longwood
Kansas 6:05 PM
Creighton
Abilene Christian 7:00 PM
Kansas State
UT Martin 7:00 PM
Missouri
Hampton 7:00 PM
(25) DePaul
Florida State 7:00 PM
Tulane
Murray State 7:00 PM
Illinois
Fla Gulf Coast 7:05 PM
Arkansas State
BYU 8:00 PM
Utah State

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you like the Twins off-season moves so far?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close