Late in 2012, you might have discovered your new favorite football player, Minnesota punter Chris Kluwe. He’s the football player who unabashedly and fantastically told Maryland politician Emmett Brown to STFU. He’s the one that introduced ‘lustful cockmonster‘ into common vernacular.
In any case, Kluwe didn’t punt in 2013 after being cut by the Vikings before the season. He recently wrote about the experience of his last season in Deadspin. Despite support from the team’s owner for his outspoken defense of marriage equality, Kluwe’s bigoted position coach likely got him cut. According to the piece, Kluwe’s always been a better than average / top third punter in the league. Although Kluwe had tryouts this year, he didn’t catch on with any teams. Good punters can usually hang around the league for a long time, so it should have been easy for Kluwe to get another job. That he didn’t likely signals he’s been marked as a troublemaker by coaches around the league.
Kind of a sizable block from the end of the piece.
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.
…I wanted to prove I still had the physical ability to compete in the NFL. I can still hit the ball 45 yards outside the numbers with good hangtime, and at the tryouts I’ve had this year I’ve gotten praise from the scouts and personnel people on hand, but for whatever reason I cannot find a job. (Side note: My numbers from last year would put me right in the middle of the pack for this year, and I’ve traditionally been in the middle to top third of punters each year).
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.
Somewhat related, though take it with two grains of salt because it’s Bleacher Report, The Inside Story of How the NFL’s Plan for Its First Openly Gay Player Fell Apart.