ENID, Okla. —
Chris Kluwe wants everybody to respect his point of view and treat him accordingly. But that respect apparently is only a one-way street as he now viciously castigates those who may have disagreed with him by labeling them “cowards” and another as a “bigot.”
And at the crossroads where professional sports and political agendas intersect, there now is a gawker-inducing nasty pileup.
Kluwe a former Minnesota Vikings punter, recently took to the website Deadspin.com to unleash a little pent-up venom in an inartful, yet provocatively titled piece, “I was an NFL player until I was fired by two cowards and a bigot,” over his no longer being employed. Kluwe used the hit piece to blame his demise not on his deteriorating skills as a punter, but on his political activism. In the process, he lashed out at former Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier and former general manager Rick Spielman as cowards and labeled special teams coach Mike Priefer a bigot.
The entire sordid, finger-pointing affair goes back to Kluwe’s unabashed support of gay marriage. And as we have seen, the entire politics of being gay, supporting gay causes, or more precisely, not supporting gay causes, has become the hot-button issue of the day. Just ask Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty about that.
We have entered an era when only one side of the issue is tolerated. To express support for a traditional view of marriage or not march in lockstep with those deemed to be more enlightened, has become a very dangerous plank to walk and opens up opponents to the very invectives they are accused of expressing. The difference is that it has become completely acceptable to denigrate people in such a fashion by accusing them of homophobia, or bigotry.
One step off that plank in the wrong direction sends the offending party into a murky abyss of a piranha-like feeding frenzy from those who identify as being gay, supporting gay marriage.
And so it appears that is the fate for the former and current Vikings who had the audacity to not enthusiastically support Kluwe’s cause.
Kluwe had been contacted in the summer of 2012 to help out a group called Minnesotans for Marriage Equality, and became an active proponent for gay marriage and spoke publicly and wrote letters on behalf of the cause. He said the Vikings told him it was not a problem as long as he was speaking as a private citizen, and not as a member of the Minnesota Vikings, who understandably, didn’t want to wade into those waters.
The 32-year-old Kluwe, an eight-year NFL veteran, said he was asked by Frazier and Spielman to tone it down. Again, not surprising, considering the volatile nature of the entire issue.
But Kluwe saves his nastiest attack for Priefer, accusing him of making “homophobic” and “anti-gay slurs” in front of him, and branding Priefer a bigot. Priefer refutes the allegation.
“The primary reason I entered coaching was to affect people in a positive way,” Priefer said in a statement. “As a coach, I have always created an accepting environment for my players, including Chris, and have looked to support them both on and off the field.
“The comments ... have not only attacked my character and insulted my professionalism, they have also impacted my family.”
Kluwe was upfront as to his motivation in his Deadspin piece, leaving no doubt it was a hit 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, and ideally, never coaches at any level,” Kluwe wrote.
The Vikings have retained counsel, and of course, the expected investigation is under way.
Kluwe believes he was let go for his support of gay marriage, but cold, hard facts — facts that he almost acknowledges in his hit piece — indicate otherwise. He ranked 17th in the NFL in punting in 2012 and was due to make $1.45 million, a large amount for a franchise struggling with finances.
Fact is, punters are easily replaced and one that is underperforming is expendable. And it’s not like Kluwe was ostracized from the NFL.
He tried out for the Raiders in 2013 and was cut in the preseason and failed at several other tryouts.
Instead of accepting the fact that maybe his playing days are done because his abilities have diminished, Kluwe instead has chosen — with Deadspin his willing accomplice — to sound the wailing siren of victimization, waving the banner of today’s most politically correct of causes, in the process smearing a longtime NFL coach, much to Kluwe’s supporters’ approval.
Whether permanent damage, as Kluwe has hoped for, has been done to Priefer remains to be seen. He was one of many names connected with the Vikings head coach position following Frazier’s dismissal.
But, to be fair, let’s not gloss over locker room matters either. It is possible, no, make that probable, harsh terms were used by coaches and players alike on occasion and not limited to so-called “homophobic” remarks. The locker room can be a pretty coarse place, but it’s also typically an equal opportunity offender. It’s sometimes not a place for the easily offended or faint of heart.
However, it is ironic Kluwe blanches at hearing “anti-gay slurs,” then unabashedly hurls hateful terms like “coward” and “bigot” at people, including one he openly hopes to destroy professionally, if not personally.
In his quest for politically correct martyrdom, Kluwe instead comes across as petulant and self-absorbed, certainly not someone you would want carrying the banner for your cause.
Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at email@example.com.