Kluwe knew his time with Vikings was over

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 7, 2013 - 7:52 AM

The Vikings punter got released as expected, but vowed to keep kicking and speaking his mind.

hide

Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe

Photo: Genevieve Ross, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

Chris Kluwe had fully prepared himself for the letdown. He knew for more than a week his days as the Vikings’ punter were over. So on Monday, in brief morning visits with General Manager Rick Spielman and coach Leslie Frazier, Kluwe simply absorbed his final moments at Winter Park with thick skin and a disappointed shrug.

Spielman told Kluwe the organization was officially moving in a new direction, handing the punting duties over to rookie Jeff Locke. That much had been obvious since the Vikings drafted Locke in the fifth round on April 27.

Frazier, meanwhile, thanked Kluwe for his contributions to the team and his work in the community but offered no detailed explanation for why the punter was being cut.

So Kluwe nodded, accepted his release and saw little point in peppering his bosses with loaded questions.

“I wasn’t expecting to get clear answers,” Kluwe said. “I’m not in the meetings with the management or with the coaches. I don’t know what all is said in there. And honestly, I wouldn’t anticipate them sharing that in full.”

Still, a handful of questions will be asked on Kluwe’s behalf. Topping the list: given the punter’s heightened profile and push to speak out on hot-button societal issues — most notably gay rights and marriage equality — cynics will look at the Vikings’ decision and wonder whether they cut Kluwe based solely on football or whether they had also tired of their veteran punter generating so much off-the-field attention for his candid opinions and activism.

After drafting Locke, Spielman insisted the push to separate from Kluwe was purely competitive.

“It had nothing to do with Chris Kluwe’s off-field concerns,” the GM said. “I have no issues if Chris Kluwe wants to express his opinion. That’s his right, that’s his freedom of speech. This is just a football decision to bring in a guy to come in to compete.”

The Vikings’ belief in Locke as a special teams upgrade will certainly be tested in 2013. But Spielman might have bought himself the early benefit of the doubt. Last year, he drafted kicker Blair Walsh in Round 6, subsequently cutting veteran Ryan Longwell nine days later.

Walsh responded with an All-Pro breakthrough, hitting 35 of 38 field goals and setting a league record with 10 field goals of 50 yards or longer. Perhaps Locke will similarly emerge, a possibility even Kluwe admits he will now root for.

“This is a great opportunity for Jeff,” he said. “I’m not going to wish ill will on him. He’s in a spot where I was eight years ago — just coming into the league, no proven track record in the NFL. So you have to go out and earn it.

“I wish him the best. I hope he breaks every one of my records.”

Kluwe currently holds franchise records for career punting average (44.4 yards) and kicks downed inside the 20 (198).

A year ago, he averaged 45.0 yards per punt with a career-best 39.7 net average. But his relationship with special teams coordinator Mike Priefer became strained and his on-field performance was sometimes inconsistent.

So now Kluwe is left to seek work elsewhere, firmly believing he has “at least four or five good seasons left” and already eyeing the league’s punter matrix wondering whether there might be possible openings in places such as Dallas, Cleveland, Oakland and Carolina.

“The only thing I can do is go out and punt as well as I know how and trust the body of work that I’ve compiled over the years. I think it’s been fairly good.”

Wherever Kluwe lands, he wants his next team to know he’ll be dedicated to his job but that he won’t stifle his opinions on topics he feels strongly about.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Toronto 77 4th Qtr
Indiana 68
Cleveland 51 3rd Qtr 11:03
Detroit 41
Milwaukee 54 3rd Qtr
Miami 50
Memphis 7 1st Qtr 8:06
Dallas 11
Chicago 9:30 PM
Golden State
Washington 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
NY Rangers 0 3rd Prd
NY Islanders 2
Arizona 3 3rd Prd
Philadelphia 3
Winnipeg 2 3rd Prd
Pittsburgh 2
Washington 2 3rd Prd
Columbus 3
Tampa Bay 1 2nd Prd 11:43
Carolina 2
Dallas 1 2nd Prd 12:57
Montreal 3
Detroit 3 2nd Prd 11:49
Florida 2
Colorado 0 2nd Prd
Nashville 0
Buffalo 8:00 PM
Calgary
Minnesota 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Anaheim 9:00 PM
Vancouver
Ball State 44 2nd Half 1:58
Akron 59
Northern Ill 41 2nd Half 3:53
Bowling Green 51
Western Mich 61 2nd Half 1:49
Buffalo 71
Ohio 40 FINAL
Eastern Mich 76
Xavier 52 2nd Half 6:15
Georgetown 38
Vanderbilt 55 2nd Half 1:56
Georgia 61
West Virginia 51 2nd Half 8:07
Kansas State 45
Central Mich 45 2nd Half 3:53
Kent State 53
Saint Josephs 46 2nd Half 0:55
La Salle 47
Nebraska 44 2nd Half 0:04
Michigan 58
Miami-Ohio 63 2nd Half 1:29
Toledo 65
Tulsa 55 2nd Half 1:52
Tulane 48
George Washington 35 2nd Half 5:42
VA Commonwealth 59
Pittsburgh 56 2nd Half 3:42
Virginia Tech 51
Indiana State 30 1st Half 2:29
Evansville 32
Tabor College 24 2nd Half
Oral Roberts 43
Florida 8:00 PM
Alabama
Tennessee 8:00 PM
Arkansas
Texas A&M 8:00 PM
Auburn
Baylor 8:00 PM
Oklahoma State
DePaul 0 Postponed
Providence 0
Michigan State 0 Postponed
Rutgers 0
Wyoming 8:00 PM
Utah State
Fresno State 8:05 PM
San Diego St
UNLV 9:00 PM
Nevada
SD Christian 9:00 PM
CS-Bakersfield
Colorado State 10:00 PM
Boise State
Coastal Carolina 65 FINAL
High Point 73
Columbia International 33 FINAL
Charleston Southern 74
Temple 71 2nd Half 0:51
UCF 54
Campbell 40 2nd Half 1:55
Presbyterian 47
Gardner-Webb 43 2nd Half 3:49
Radford 51
UNC-Asheville 53 2nd Half 0:40
Liberty 60
Winthrop 61 2nd Half 0:14
Longwood 61
Tulane 26 1st Half 0:41
Houston 18
(3) Baylor 46 2nd Half
TCU 34
Navy 22 2nd Half
American Univ 32
Valparaiso 15 2nd Half
Illinois-Chicago 24
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who will win the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close