The punter of the Minnesota Vikings, Chris Kluwe, was released by his team after eight years of service, but was it for his skills or beliefs?
If we measure Kluwe purely by statistics, he has been a very productive punter for the Vikings over the course of his career, though he has steadily declined with age. He has averaged 44.4 yards per punt over his career, but last season he was ranked 20th among punters in the NFL.
I am no conspiracy theorist, but it seemed like Kluwe’s off the field antics landed him in hot water, and ultimately in free agency. Kluwe has been an outspoken public advocate for same-sex marriage and has been very opinionated on Twitter about other political issues.
A punter is among one of the least glamorous positions in the NFL, perhaps in all of professional sports.
It is unclear if Kluwe’s release was because of his production or his activism, but the timing of the release is a little odd. Recently, WNBA player Brittney Griner and NBA player Jason Collins came out as being gay, each to overwhelming positive reactions from fellow athletes.
With the recent news of Collins and Griner, I would like to think that the sports world is softening up to the idea of gays being accepted in the locker room.
I commend Kluwe for being so outspoken and fearless. He risked his career and most likely lost some fans during his tweets, but in my eyes he is a role model. Regardless of what profession you are in, speaking your mind is of utmost importance. It is what our country is built on and it is something future athletes should not fear.
Kluwe was due to make $1.45 million this season, which would have been the last year of the 7-year, $8.7 million dollar contract he signed back in 2007. Kluwe’s age and declining production could very well have been the reason he was released. However, out of respect for his veteran standing, the Vikings could have made that decision next year, especially with the relatively low financial strain he put on the team.