Photo by David Bowman
The last 18 months have been a wild ride for Vikings punter Chris Kluwe. It all started in the summer of 2012 when he published an open letter to Maryland delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. for "trampling" the rights of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo for defending marriage equality. It became national news, and we featured him on the cover of Out's November 2012 issue.
After he assumed his new role as the guy calling out other for their hypocrisy, it seemed it began to spill over into his professional football career. Earlier this this year, in May 2013, Kluwe was released from the team. Now, he's returned to Deadspin to publish a lengthy explanation of his dismissal, titled "I Was An NFL Player Until I Was Fired By Two Cowards And A Bigot." It's quite a revealing essay, definitely burns bridges, and he sets the record straight from his point of view.
Curious why he decided to share? At one point he explains:
"If there's one thing I hope to achieve from sharing this story, it's to make sure that Mike Priefer never holds a coaching position again in the NFL, and ideally never coaches at any level. (According to the Pioneer Press, he is 'the only in-house candidate with a chance' at the head-coaching job.) It's inexcusable that someone would use his status as a teacher and a role model to proselytize on behalf of his own doctrine of intolerance, and I hope he never gets another opportunity to pass his example along to anyone else. I also hope that Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman take a good look in the mirror and ask themselves if they are the people they truly profess themselves to be."
He ends the long blow-by-blow explanation with this final summation:
"However, it's clear to me that no matter how much I want to prove I can play, I will no longer punt in the NFL, especially now that I've written this account. Whether it's my age, my minimum veteran salary, my habit of speaking my mind, or (most likely) a combination of all three, my time as a football player is done. Punters are always replaceable, at least in the minds of those in charge, and I realize that in advocating noisily for social change I only made it easier for them to justify not having me around. So it goes.
"Some will ask if the NFL has a problem with institutionalized homophobia. I don't think it does. I think there are homophobic people in the NFL, in all positions, but that's true for society as well, and those people eventually get replaced. All we can do is try to expose their behavior when we see it and call them to account for their actions."
What's next for Kluwe? Only time will tell.