Chris Kluwe is the former punter of the Minnesota Vikings. During his tenure with the team, from 2005 to 2012, Kluwe holds a number of records for the organization. Later in that tenure, Kluwe became quite vocal about supporting gay marriage – and in awesome fashion. Kluwe wrote an open letter on Deadspin where he told a state delegate from Maryland that married gay people “won’t magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster.” Unfortunately, his efforts got him release (fired) from the team.
Kluwe reveals in an open letter that he believes he was released from the Vikings for having an open and opinionated view of gay marriage, poking fun at state senators in the process. The Vikings on the other hand claim he was release because of his lack of performance compared to other punters. Kluwe goes on and claims his supervisors were either bigots (for hating on gay lifestyles) or cowards (for not having stuck up for him). I’ll wholeheartedly agree with him on the bigot statement; he claims his special teams coach Mike Priefer at one point during the 2012 season said, “We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.” But I’m not so sure I can agree with him on the coward statement.
Kluwe works in a high profile type industry, where PR rules the land. The NFL has an “image” of itself that it will protect as best it can, and Kluwe’s opinions and methods for demonstrating those opinions strayed from this image. From the NFL’s perspective, I don’t believe it is a story about whether gay people have the right to marry one another; it’s about not talking about politically controversial things that stray from the game itself. Hell, the NFL does not even like talking about the game itself in some aspects, like the correlation between playing in the NFL and permanent brain injuries. Yet Chris Kluwe acts surprised that he was released, and never picked back up by another NFL team?
Kluwe may think he was blacklisted by the Minnesota Vikings, but I actually doubt that he was. Kluwe blacklisted himself for speaking out and compromising the NFL image. And the people Kluwe labeled as “cowards” were possibly looking out for him, but mostly looking out for themselves. His supervisors are just as (if not more) responsible for keeping the image of the NFL. It’s not a moral responsibility, rather, it is what the coaches are paid to do. It may be a sad reality, but that is the reality of business in America.