Earlier today, punter /marriage equality advocate Chris Kluwe was released by the Minnesota Vikings. Though GM Rick Spielman denied the 8-year veteran’s termination was in any way related to his off-field activities (“I have no issues if Chris Kluwe wants to express his opinion. That’s his right, that’s his freedom of speech”), at least one observer has likened the Vikings’ move to defacto censorship. Predictably, such talk didn’t sit well with Sirius/XM’s resident baiter of the rational, Dino Costa, who claimed a politically conservative player would enjoy a far shorter career given the overwhelming liberal media bias. You wouldn’t think Costa was too young to remember Steve Largent — he certainly doesn’t look it. Or the time an NFL franchise not only endorsed a bit of anti-abortion propaganda, but bankrolled and produced it to boot.
While Kluwe tells the New York Times’ Pat Borzi he has no intention of dialing it down (“while I love being able to play football, there are things in life that matter more than a child’s game”), the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Chip Scoggins — presumably part of that elitist media cabal that won’t allow Dino Costa any bigger a platform than Fox News’ “Red Eye” —- argues, “it’s absurd when people blame a bad punt on the belief that Kluwe is too distracted by his activism.”
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.
“My career averages are good,” he said. “It’s not like I’ve been scraping by. I really hope that I get a chance to catch on with someone else.”
So do I. The NFL is simply more interesting with Chris Kluwe in it.