Join 3,421 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


I Was An NFL Player Until I Was Fired By Two Cowards And A Bigot
January 2, 2014 10:25 AM   Subscribe

"Hello. My name is Chris Kluwe, and for eight years I was the punter for the Minnesota Vikings. In May 2013, the Vikings released me from the team. At the time, quite a few people asked me if I thought it was because of my recent activism for same-sex marriage rights, and I was very careful in how I answered the question."

Kluwe previously
posted by roomthreeseventeen (247 comments total) 79 users marked this as a favorite

 
Chris Kluwe is my favorite.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:28 AM on January 2 [17 favorites]


"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. "

Hell yeah Chris.
posted by capnsue at 10:31 AM on January 2 [27 favorites]


So would Kluwe consider the CFL? How would his stats stack up against the current leaderboard?
posted by maudlin at 10:36 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


My mistake was reading the whole article before I came here to post it.

My take away is that if you want to have opinions, you better not play on special teams.
posted by absalom at 10:37 AM on January 2 [3 favorites]


I think I might make this guy the only football player I've ever followed on Twitter. Clearly I've been missing out.
posted by emjaybee at 10:40 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Note to self: don't cross Chris Kluwe.

Which is easy because adoring Chris Kluwe remains a really easy thing for me to do. Lowering the boom on a bigot is one thing, but waiting until the worst possible moment for that bigot's career to do it is masterful. I'm glad he's using his powers for good because being on the opposite side from him would be terrifying.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:42 AM on January 2 [52 favorites]


What a guy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:42 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


The fact that he sat on this for 8 months until it would be the most perfectly devastating PR move against Mike what's-his-name is pretty choice.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:43 AM on January 2 [31 favorites]


The timing of this could not be better. Revenge is a dish that is best served cold, even if "revenge" may not have been his only motivation is posting this now.
posted by mosk at 10:45 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Any story where Zygi Wilf comes out as one of the better people is a crazy fucking story.

Balls to the Vikings.
posted by COBRA! at 10:46 AM on January 2 [11 favorites]


So, Kluwe has lost his job but that Duck Dynasty jackass is going back on the air. Who's being "oppressed" again?
posted by brundlefly at 10:46 AM on January 2 [121 favorites]


Most excellent.

Interesting that, if his account is true, the team owner was seemingly on Kluwe's side, yet he was still let go for no truly justifiable reason. I wonder what sorts of lies about Chris' performance the 2 cowards and the bigot told the team owner to make it seem like his views had nothing to do with his release.
posted by lord_wolf at 10:47 AM on January 2


That guy is awesome.

Also, I'm kinda shocked at how much it's like a white-collar corporate job:
In November and December, I was frequently marked for negative scores by Mike Priefer on our "Production Point" sheet for punts that earlier had been marked positive, despite the numbers being almost exactly the same in terms of hangtime and distance. I do not know if these "Production Point" sheets were ever shown to our general manager or head coach, nor do I know if they were used to evaluate my job performance, though I suspect they were. I often laughed with other players about how the points seemed to be arbitrarily assigned, and we all agreed that there was no way to succeed as far as the "Production Point" charts were concerned. The vast majority of special-teams players already had negative point totals for the year.
posted by ignignokt at 10:48 AM on January 2 [14 favorites]


I wonder what sorts of lies about Chris' performance the 2 cowards and the bigot told the team owner to make it seem like his views had nothing to do with his release.

The team owner probably does not involve himself in personnel decisions at that level.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:49 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


Chris Kluwe is fucking awesome.
posted by scody at 10:51 AM on January 2 [4 favorites]


It will be especially interesting to see who among his former teammates comes forward to corroborate his story; this would seem a lot more likely now that Frazier is gone.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:51 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


If Priefer gets the Vikings head coach job (as has been intimated as a possibility by several sources), I'm becoming a Packers fan.
posted by mfu at 10:53 AM on January 2 [11 favorites]


Interesting that, if his account is true, the team owner was seemingly on Kluwe's side, yet he was still let go for no truly justifiable reason.

They had a justifiable reason - his performance was declining and as a veteran he was guaranteed a salary roughly double what a rookie would get. The rookie they replaced him with placed 24th in the league for raw punting yards and 18th in net yards, both of which are right in line with Kluwe's numbers (22/17) in his final year.

It almost certainly wasn't the real reason, but they had a way to cover their asses.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:53 AM on January 2 [6 favorites]


Also, I'm kinda shocked at how much it's like a white-collar corporate job:

Every job is like a white-collar corporate job now. You should see the shit I have to do for yearly teaching evaluations.
posted by absalom at 10:54 AM on January 2 [27 favorites]


If Priefer gets the Vikings head coach job (as has been intimated as a possibility by several sources), I'm becoming a Packers fan.


Whoa...let's not get crazy here.

just kidding...mostly
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:54 AM on January 2 [3 favorites]


Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, Riley Cooper is preparing to play this weekend's playoff game.
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 10:55 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


the vikings owner doesn't concern himself with things like this - that's why there's (at least and probably more than) 3 steps from kluwe to the owner. in organizations where the owner does make these choices (like, the cowboys) it is seen as a completely broken system.
posted by nadawi at 10:56 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


But seriously, I really hope this story doesn't become about whether or not Kluwe got fired because of his activism (as there is a pretty strong argument that it's about performance/salary) and can somehow remain about how a coach of an NFL team used language like he did without anybody batting an eye.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:57 AM on January 2 [17 favorites]


Yeah, I think veteran punters get screwed. It's hard to justify paying the higher league minimum for a veteran punter if you can get anywhere near that level of production out of a rookie or second-year player.

To some extent, kickers (and long-snappers, and other special-teams players) suffer the same fate. Veteran kickers, though, have it better, because if they're at all consistent they know that they can wait by the phone and someone will call them up after their rookie kicker took nine points off the board by missing a few chip shots.
posted by savetheclocktower at 10:57 AM on January 2 [4 favorites]


and i love that he not only did this when it was most devastating to the homophobe, but as he says, also the least distracting for the team.
posted by nadawi at 10:57 AM on January 2 [4 favorites]


Also, Chris Kluwe once said nice things to me on Twitter when I was moaning about a google docs synch screwup eating a 5,000-word fake New Yorker article about jenkem that I was writing. Conclusion: Chris Kluwe is a full-spectrum awesome guy.
posted by COBRA! at 11:00 AM on January 2 [22 favorites]


If Chris Kluwe played in the CFL, I can see myself watching a gamne and maybe even buying a Kluwe Jersey. (<- Patent lies and bullshit, but I'm caught up in enthusiasm for the guy. I'm not sitting through a CFL game nor buying a jersey unless Jesus and John Lennon are on opposing teams, and then only if the NFL matchup in Jaguars versus Browns.)

Chris Kluwe is awesome.
posted by Keith Talent at 11:02 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


Vikings fan here and a big fan of Kluwe as well. When the team let him go, I was curious as to what was the reasoning. The team did seem to save money by replacing him with a rookie and Spielman is a congenital idiot, so I figured that was that. I had no idea that Priefer was a pencil-dick self-loathing lustful cockmonster.

The rumor is that Spielman and Wilf will clean out the rest of the coaching staff. Given the lackluster play-calling this year, I am fine with that. After reading this article I demand it.
posted by Ber at 11:03 AM on January 2 [4 favorites]


Interview video with Ellen, Jan. 2013
posted by amtho at 11:05 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


So, Kluwe has lost his job but that Duck Dynasty jackass is going back on the air. Who's being "oppressed" again?

If you were to ask Taki's Magazine, VDare, UNZ reader, the American Conservative, etc., you'd most certainly be told it's the Duck Dynasty supporters. Conservatives and their demographic are like an oppressed, endangered species that's being killed off by "politically correct," "race-baiting," "affirmative action-supporting," "War on Christmas-waging" Marxist Feminist Liberals and Angry Minorities.
posted by ChuckRamone at 11:06 AM on January 2 [3 favorites]


if they're at all consistent they know that they can wait by the phone and someone will call them up after their rookie kicker took nine points off the board by missing a few chip shots.

This happened with the Bills - they had Brian Moorman for like 12 years then released him in favor of a guy in his second year in the league. When the new guy failed to perform they brought Moorman right back. Moorman is 37 years old. So there's hope for Kluwe yet.
posted by troika at 11:06 AM on January 2


Attention Chicago Bears: Your current punter is very bad, Chris Kluwe would be a marked improvement and would annoy a division rival.
posted by eriko at 11:06 AM on January 2 [60 favorites]


Been following Kluwe for a while now on twitter. I am not much into gaming which he apparently is (@chriswarcraft is the give away), but when he is tweeting about the real world, he is on point. His book, Beautifully Unique Sparkle Ponies, is pretty darn good too and has gotten great reviews.

He is also dead on correct about letting Ray Guy into the hall of fame!
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:12 AM on January 2 [13 favorites]


I don't follow sports at all and I don't know or understand the hierarchy and actual roles of individuals within teams, but I was interested to see that the fact that owner of the team personally supports what Kluwe was doing in terms of advocacy and speaking out had no bearing on his retention on the team.

Attention Chicago Bears: Your current punter is very bad, Chris Kluwe would be a marked improvement and would annoy a division rival.

Are there any "progressive" teams that might take on Kluwe, in part for being an asset to their PR? He catches a LOT of eyeballs, but I could see that the vocal homophobes present in major sports could cause a lot of grief for such a team.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:15 AM on January 2


As we sat down in our chairs, Mike Priefer, in one of the meanest voices I can ever recall hearing, said: "We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows."
Whelp. What a thing to say.
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:16 AM on January 2 [5 favorites]


Attention Chicago Bears: Your current punter is very bad, Chris Kluwe would be a marked improvement and would annoy a division rival.

I just fell out of my chair. They should sign him just for the amount of jerseys they'd sell alone.

as he says, also the least distracting for the team.


I really appreciated this too. Of course, the funny thing about that is that any small shiny object could have easily distracted any team in the NFC North this season.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:16 AM on January 2 [6 favorites]


Only Brady or Manning or someone like that could write an article like this and play in the NFL again. If anyone hired him he'd be seen as a "distraction," and punters aren't valuable enough for a team to put up with all the media attention he'd get in the wake of all this.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:16 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


He is also dead on correct about letting Ray Guy into the hall of fame!

Absolutely!

The NFL could use a bunch more Ray Guys.
posted by TedW at 11:18 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


I had to look up the word fromunda. I wish I hadn't.
posted by Mojojojo at 11:20 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


Kluwe is the lefty version of Tebow when it comes to attracting non-at-all-interested-in-football fans to football.

Personally, I think if Oscar Wilde could land a backspin punt in the corner inside the 5-yard line 85% of the time, he'd be playing. Punters are already officially not-real players; the nfl recently ruled they were so weak that they are considered defenseless once the ball has been snapped, even after the kick, or even if they don't kick.
posted by umberto at 11:21 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Of course, the funny thing about that is that any small shiny object could have easily distracted any team in the NFC North this season.

"Look, we all just want to focus on rebuilding for next year, none of us want to deal with this playoffs stuff. How about you just take an extra team from the NFC West or something?"

- NFC North
posted by kmz at 11:22 AM on January 2 [4 favorites]


If the playoffs this year were just the NFC South playing the NFC West, and the AFC East playing the AFC West, very little of value would have been lost.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:24 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


the nfl recently ruled they were so weak that they are considered defenseless once the ball has been snapped, even after the kick, or even if they don't kick.

Well, they've always been protected after the kick, at least until the kick returner gets the ball back within tackling range.
posted by kmz at 11:24 AM on January 2


Punters are already officially not-real players; the nfl recently ruled they were so weak that they are considered defenseless once the ball has been snapped, even after the kick, or even if they don't kick.

They just haven't met Pat McAfee, Destroyer of Worlds.
posted by Copronymus at 11:27 AM on January 2 [12 favorites]


the nfl recently ruled they were so weak that they are considered defenseless once the ball has been snapped, even after the kick, or even if they don't kick.

Not without reason. They don't wear the same amount of type of gear.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:28 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


but I was interested to see that the fact that owner of the team personally supports what Kluwe was doing in terms of advocacy and speaking out had no bearing on his retention on the team.

with a few exceptions, the owner is a financial position - head of the board, ceo, moving the money around, hiring the right managers, going to the right parties, etc. there are very few cases where the owner would step in at all about hiring/firing on a position like punter. i imagine the owner would have been told about draft plans, but if the special teams coach says "this guy isn't going to get us there and he's a distraction," the owner wouldn't quibble that over a punter. if kluwe were a starting running back/quarterback/etc, all of this would be pretty different.

the long standing joke is that punters aren't actually part of the team. if a retail manager fires the part time bag boy, the owner of the company isn't going to step in, even if he thought that bag boy was pretty funny.
posted by nadawi at 11:29 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


The NFL could use a bunch more Ray Guys.

I meant Chris Kluwes, although Ray Guy is cool too.
posted by TedW at 11:29 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


there was some uproar over that defenseless player thing - lots of people feel that play was an illegal hit whether he was defenseless or not and that by saying punters are always defenseless it hurts their position on the team and in bargaining.
posted by nadawi at 11:31 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Mike Priefer certainly sounds like a bigot.

But, you are on borrowed time in practically every corporation in the United States if you do half of the things Chris Kluwe did. His account demonstrates several opportunities where they requested him to tone things down - because they were affecting the Vikings organization. He didn't appreciate the position the rest of the org was in, and sounds very much like he was basking in his new, off the field publicity. His account reverberates with "I" and "me" and that mentality will have a direct clash in an environment where team and teamwork are above all, no matter how noble your personsal cause might be.
posted by Kruger5 at 11:31 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


Uh, no.

My employer has no problem with advocating for equal rights. I can't imagine working for one that would.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:32 AM on January 2 [51 favorites]


The android interface is too awkward for me to link, but they are now considered defenseless even if they are attempting to make a tackle. Apparently the onus is on the punt returner to not hurt the poor little punter trying to bring him down. The Harrison Bergeron league beckons.
posted by umberto at 11:34 AM on January 2


But, you are on borrowed time in practically every corporation in the United States if you do half of the things Chris Kluwe did.

I speak out for equal rights all the time. I have never been told to be quiet, or fired, for these opinions.

I won't respond to the rest of your post, because I don't really care if advocating for basic human rights adversely affects adult men playing a game.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:35 AM on January 2 [63 favorites]


But, you are on borrowed time in practically every corporation in the United States if you do half of the things Chris Kluwe did. His account demonstrates several opportunities where they requested him to tone things down - because they were affecting the Vikings organization.
"Free speech is endangered species; those 'intolerants' hatin'... for voicing personal opinion take on us all,"
-- Constitutional Scholar Sarah Palin.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:36 AM on January 2 [11 favorites]


The sports media writes about NFL coaches like they're genius brain surgeons, but every time I read an account from players the coaches just seem to be really bad at their jobs.
posted by chrchr at 11:36 AM on January 2 [3 favorites]


Well Leslie Frazier didn't get unceremoniously fired the day after the season ended because he's a great coach.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:37 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I would think punters would hate that 'defenceless' thing more than anyone. Reinforces an already unfair prejudgement.
posted by umberto at 11:37 AM on January 2


They just haven't met Pat McAfee, Destroyer of Worlds.

I don't even need to click. I know exactly what play that is, and yes, that's the perfect caption for it. *

Of course, the funny thing about that is that any small shiny object could have easily distracted any team in the NFC North this season.

What distracted the Bears and Packers was the length of the IR roster and weekly unable-to-perform lists. What distracted the Lions is, I don't know, I'm guessing The Schwartz.

Minnesota? Well, Minnesota just sucked.

* It's a punt return that's broken through and it is down to the returner and Pat McAffee, the punter (and also Destroyer of Worlds.) Pat McAffee, Destroyer of Worlds, calls forth his ungodly power and lays a hit on the returner to get him out of bounds and save the touchdown. It was a hit so hard that Larry Czonka would have be tempted to throw a flag for unnecessary use of godlike powers. I honestly though it represented a violation of the laws of physics. It was, to be honest, beautiful. It also represented an important lesson -- don't annoy a person who just kicked a ball 55 yards.
posted by eriko at 11:37 AM on January 2 [5 favorites]


mcafee was also up for a "random" drug test right after that (amazing) play.

the twitter search for Mike Priefer is glorious right now.
posted by nadawi at 11:41 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


His account reverberates with "I" and "me"

Well... yeah. That's what happens when someone writes in the first person about a series of events in their life. Not really something to get all bunchy about.
posted by palomar at 11:44 AM on January 2 [46 favorites]


There was a similar comment on Deadspin. The immediate response was, in paraphrase, "who cares why he's doing it if it's the right thing to do?"

A useful principle.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:46 AM on January 2 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I would think punters would hate that 'defenceless' thing more than anyone. Reinforces an already unfair prejudgement.

A punter in the process of punting -- that is, from the ball being dropped to the kicking foot returning to the ground and planting -- is probably the most defenseless player in the game of football. The reason for the Roughing the Kicker rule is that we would literally have no punters in the NFL, because they would all be completely and utterly destroyed playing college football, if you could hit a punter at full tilt while he was punting.

Once both feet are on the ground and they make "a football move" -- that is, they move in some direction not associated with the kick -- they stop being a kicker and are just another guy on the field. Generally, they're supposed to stay out of the way, because they're in limited pads, but sometimes, they need to make a play -- see above about Pat McAffee, Destroyer of Worlds. Usually, however, when they have to make a play, the highlight shows them slightly annoying Devin Hester, then shows Devin Hester entering the end zone, then shows the Ref calling Holding on Chicago. not bitter
posted by eriko at 11:47 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


I don't watch sportsball of any kind.
I read Chris Kluwe's book, Beautifully Unique SparklePonies.
I think Chris Kluwe has a fascinating mind that is honorable and full of integrity.
I think he would make an excellent MeFite.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:48 AM on January 2 [34 favorites]


Pro sports, sadly, seems to be a hotbed of all kinds of really crappy homophobic and misogynistic shit. I really, really hope that the lights being shined on it now - with this article, with the incident with the Dolphins, and whatever else I'm forgetting - that maybe it will start to improve.

I've been finding football tough to watch since the concussion issues starting coming out...this stuff just makes it even harder.
posted by nubs at 11:51 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


don't even need to click. I know exactly what play that is, and yes, that's the perfect caption for it.

Oh no, my friend, you need to click. Trust me. You don't even know how much you need it.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:55 AM on January 2 [7 favorites]


the twitter search for Mike Priefer is glorious right now.

This tweet is fairly awesome:

"How long until Mike Priefer is arrested while tapping his foot in a stall at a Minneapolis airport bathroom?"
posted by Mooski at 11:57 AM on January 2 [11 favorites]


If Kluwe wanted to keep playing in the NFL he should have engaged in less controversial activities than advocating for equal treatment for all under the law. Like maybe dog fighting or accessory to murder.
posted by phearlez at 11:57 AM on January 2 [197 favorites]


eriko: Once both feet are on the ground and they make "a football move" -- that is, they move in some direction not associated with the kick -- they stop being a kicker and are just another guy on the field.

That's not technically the case, though it is in practice, but it's a confusing rule and needs to be clarified.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:58 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


the twitter search for Mike Priefer is glorious right now.

Heh: Mike Priefer may never get a head coaching job, but he's a sure thing for president of the Duck Dynasty fan club. #vikings @ChrisWarcraft

As the saying goes, it sucks to suck.

there are very few cases where the owner would step in at all about hiring/firing on a position like punter

I wanted to think of a few counter-examples, but the only people who came to my mind for this level of involvement are Jones and Snyder. And, as you said in another comment, their level of involvement usually indicates a broken system -- the results (or lack thereof) of their approaches speak for themselves. I don't know anything about Wilf besides what I learned today after reading the linked article, but I kinda woulda hoped that he would have been a little bit suspicious about the timing of Chris's release.

In any event, I can barely imagine what it must have been like to be in the room when Priefer made that nukes comment. I think it would have been one of the few times in my life where I used a flat what in actual conversation. I really hope that Chris's article helps get Priefer branded as a "distraction" and inclines teams to look past him when searching for a coach.
posted by lord_wolf at 11:58 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


eep - people have found priefer's son on twitter and are searching through his twitter history - seems the homophobic apple didn't fall far from the tree...
posted by nadawi at 12:03 PM on January 2


nadawi, is that real or is it a parody account?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:04 PM on January 2


I wanted to think of a few counter-examples, but the only people who came to my mind for this level of involvement are Jones and Snyder.

ha! i was racking my brain while making that comment and those were the two i came up with as well.
posted by nadawi at 12:04 PM on January 2


One of the many reasons I don't listen to as much sports radio anymore is that I'm easily distracted and can spend lots of time wondering about hypothetical questions that there is really no good answer too -- but now I can't help but wonder what's more easily replaceable a punter or a special teams coach. I'll hang up now and wait if anybody has any good answers.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:05 PM on January 2 [3 favorites]


Yeah I was going to respond to mr_roboto's "The team owner probably does not involve himself in personnel decisions at that level" with a comment about the Pigskins and Snyder but it seemed pretty obvious and obvious that it's not a standard to emulate. Though as only a casual football watcher I don't find much about the NFL's operation that seems all that inspiring as a moral compass anyway.
posted by phearlez at 12:05 PM on January 2


Jim Bouton once wrote that a former manager told him about the three ways to get out of professional baseball: “He said you could drink your way out, you could eat your way out, or you could fuck your way out.” Bouton then added “You can also, I believe, write your way out.”

Now quadruple up on the machismo factor and apply that to the football world.

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, Riley Cooper is preparing to play this weekend's playoff game.

That writes itself. Cooper has been contributing to a team that's winning. In the sports world, you can fuck the owner's daughter on the hood of his Mercedes if your statline is good enough, but god help you if your numbers start slipping.

As for Kluwe, I can balance in my head that (a) he's on the level, (b) that kind of homophobia goes unchallenged in many a locker room, and (c) sending Kluwe packing WAS a good business decision in straight-up cost-for-on-field-performance metrics. It will be interesting to see how much it ends up costing the Vikings in terms of reputation and PR, though.
posted by delfin at 12:07 PM on January 2


One of the many reasons I don't listen to as much sports radio anymore is that I'm easily distracted and can spend lots of time wondering about hypothetical questions that there is really no good answer too -- but now I can't help but wonder what's more easily replaceable a punter or a special teams coach. I'll hang up now and wait if anybody has any good answers..

I have no answer to this question except to rant about how much I miss Dave Toub.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:08 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


roomthreeseventeen - not sure if we're looking at the same thing, but there's nothing about the account i was directed to that makes it look like a parody - very long history, lots of tweeting personal pics of him hanging out with friends, lots of just generally talking about life and football, etc.
posted by nadawi at 12:08 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


and that account got protected in the last 6 minutes. so, yeah, it's him.
posted by nadawi at 12:10 PM on January 2 [3 favorites]


I do not like football, and especially dislike all the Bears hoopla here in Chicago all the time. But I swear, if the Bears were to hire Kluwe I'd buy a Kluwe jersey and watch every game.
posted by dnash at 12:11 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


If Priefer gets the Vikings head coach job (as has been intimated as a possibility by several sources), I'm becoming a Packers fan.


Whoa...let's not get crazy here.

just kidding...mostly


Whatever else you may say about them the Packers have the only sane ownership scheme in the NFL American professional sports.
posted by edgeways at 12:12 PM on January 2 [34 favorites]


And that's why the NFL barred all other teams from ever replicating it.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:13 PM on January 2 [24 favorites]


I wonder if there is any video of Priefer slapping a player on the ass.
posted by CincyBlues at 12:13 PM on January 2


edgeways: Whatever else you may say about them the Packers have the only sane ownership scheme in the NFL American professional sports."

I am a part owner of the Packers and I am a lifelong Giants fan. Love my stock certificate hanging on the wall.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:15 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


It's not so bad for the team's performance to ditch your veteran punter and replace them with a cheaper rookie, but to spend a 5th round draft pick to do it is nuts. The Vikings could use a lot of help and a 5th round pick could have netted them a player that addressed a need.
posted by chrchr at 12:16 PM on January 2 [5 favorites]


But, you are on borrowed time in practically every corporation in the United States if you do half of the things Chris Kluwe did.

Dude, every place I've ever worked for would kill to have one of its employees act as awesomely as Chris Kluwe does. He is a huge branding plus for basically anybody who has him. In terms of the NFL, he's so awesome that he attracts a demographic that doesn't watch football in the first place.

If everybody who played football was as awesome as Kluwe I would probably watch it every now and then. Especially if they tweeted catcalls at each other before the game began.
posted by Rory Marinich at 12:17 PM on January 2 [22 favorites]


It's not so bad for the team's performance to ditch your veteran punter and replace them with a cheaper rookie, but to spend a 5th round draft pick to do it is nuts. The Vikings could use a lot of help and a 5th round pick could have netted them a player that addressed a need.

It's not like the Vikings have a history of being very bright with their draft anyway -Herschel Walker Trade.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:22 PM on January 2


Dude, every place I've ever worked for wouldkill to have one of its employees act as awesomely as Chris Kluwe does. 

You can't create your own martyr status.
posted by Kruger5 at 12:24 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


In terms of the NFL, he's so awesome that he attracts a demographic that doesn't watch football in the first place.

This! He was the first person that ever made football seem interesting to me. Now that he's not playing, I don't need to be interested any more. Saves me some time, I guess. But the sport is definitely poorer for his absence.
posted by longdaysjourney at 12:26 PM on January 2 [4 favorites]


In terms of the NFL, he's so awesome that he attracts a demographic that doesn't watch football in the first place.

It's a new temporary demographic which has the potential to alienate the old long-term, steady money demographic, though. Giving institutional support to him is a risky decision to make, financially, and it doesn't surprise me that they've chosen what they see as the easier path.
posted by elizardbits at 12:28 PM on January 2 [4 favorites]


Kruger5: "But, you are on borrowed time in practically every corporation in the United States if you do half of the things Chris Kluwe did. His account demonstrates several opportunities where they requested him to tone things down - because they were affecting the Vikings organization. He didn't appreciate the position the rest of the org was in, and sounds very much like he was basking in his new, off the field publicity. His account reverberates with "I" and "me" and that mentality will have a direct clash in an environment where team and teamwork are above all, no matter how noble your personsal cause might be."

Also, you stand a chance of being arrested for taking up a seat reserved for your betters, if you talk that way on a public bus system.

Free speech is dangerous, people. Keep your heads low if you know what's good for you.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:29 PM on January 2 [5 favorites]


Whelp, this is blowing up on the sports news circuit; however, vikings.com does seem to be covering it....
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:34 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


when brendon ayanbadejo spoke out in favor of equal marriage, the baltimore ravens supported him (although, after he was released from the team he suggested he was let go partially for his activism - today he said he retired willingly).
posted by nadawi at 12:35 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


It's not like the Vikings have a history of being very bright with their draft anyway -Herschel Walker Trade.
Or, much closer to the present day, their QB situation.

Zygi Wilf hasn't participated in his teams management the way Snyder has, but has definitely had an impact, and not necessarily for the better.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:35 PM on January 2


this is blowing up on the sports news circuit

It has definitely made the vikings tag harder to navigate when one's primary interest is shirtless photos of Ragnar Lothbrok.
posted by elizardbits at 12:35 PM on January 2 [25 favorites]


Whelp, this is blowing up on the sports news circuit; however, vikings.com does seem to be covering it....

The local ESPN radio station seems to be covering this, but I didn't see anything on their cable network/flagship website.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:36 PM on January 2


It has definitely made the vikings tag harder to navigate when one's primary interest is shirtless photos of Ragnar Lothbrok.

Try the sexybloodeagle tag.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:37 PM on January 2 [3 favorites]


it's being reported on cbssports.com and profootballtalk and a bunch of other big football sites. espn is weird about things like this - there are lots of examples of them not covering a big story to talk more about tebow or whatever - and if i remember correctly a lot of those instances involve things reported on deadspin first.
posted by nadawi at 12:47 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


He was the first person that ever made football seem interesting to me. Now that he's not playing, I don't need to be interested any more. Saves me some time, I guess. But the sport is definitely poorer for his absence.

I can't say that they went as far as making me interested in baseball, but Brandon McCarthy's Twitter posts, and in particular, this exchange with @love_that_goku, made baseball players seem more like real people I could relate to.
posted by ignignokt at 12:53 PM on January 2


another football player who defies stereotypes and is a big ole nerd is brennan williams. i don't know his political views, but i do know that he has an asuka dakimakura, talks anime and gaming all the time, and larps.
posted by nadawi at 1:01 PM on January 2


Has anyone corroborated Kluwe's story? It would be really nice - and helpful to his case/cause/story - if someone did. Because you can also read his story and see it as a disgruntled employee taking shots. I'm not saying that's the case here, but it's certainly one interpretation making the rounds.
posted by Thistledown at 1:02 PM on January 2


As someone who in real life is more of a "go along to get along" type of person than I care to admit (I have long-time friends who I'm sure have no idea what my political opinions are since I tend to avoid conflict/debate), I loved this more than I can express in words and really admire Kluwe's "fuck-it-all" scorched Earth method of powerfully getting his point across.
posted by The Gooch at 1:03 PM on January 2


Though lack of corroboration should not necessarily equate to "he's lying." There are a lot of people who were in that locker room who are weighing the "Kluwe may have talked his way out of an NFL job, much like the job I have" equation in their heads.
posted by delfin at 1:04 PM on January 2 [6 favorites]


Because you can also read his story and see it as a disgruntled employee taking shots.

Is there something from Kluwe's history that would lead to this interpretation? Has he done it before?

Because otherwise, I see no reason to question the validity of his story or his stated motivation.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:06 PM on January 2 [12 favorites]


i'm betting no active player is going to back him up. former players probably won't be likely to either since quite a few of them end up working with the nfl in one way or another. this is how this sort of thing keeps on keeping on.
posted by nadawi at 1:07 PM on January 2 [3 favorites]


Though lack of corroboration should not necessarily equate to "he's lying." There are a lot of people who were in that locker room who are weighing the "Kluwe may have talked his way out of an NFL job, much like the job I have" equation in their heads.

I agree, delfin - but if Preifer behaved the way Kluwe alleges, some corroboration would at least keep the eyeballs focused on the main issue - Preifer being a bigot - instead of a narrative that Kluwe is saying all of this in a sour-grapes scorched earth move.

My personal politics want to believe all of this, but I'm getting skeptical about a lot of things in my old age and just because I want all of this to be true doesn't mean it really is. Also doesn't mean it isn't.
posted by Thistledown at 1:09 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Every piece of evidence I have is that Kluwe is a stand-up guy and Preifer is a sack of shit, so I'm going to go with Kluwe's word here.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:14 PM on January 2 [13 favorites]


what isn't really up for debate is that preifer was the reason kluwe was fired - he said as much back in june. his excuses were pretty mealy mouthed even then and seemed to not be telling the whole story.
posted by nadawi at 1:15 PM on January 2


I admit I might be blinded by my adoration but Kluwe seems to be the type of guy to be careful and smart about what he reports being said. As the tale is told now leaves Mike Priefer only 2 options (other than just saying "yep, the stories about me saying gays should be rounded up and nuked until they glow" are true):

1) Saying "I didn't say that", in which case it would probably be a lot easier to find someone to corroborate or refute the story (calling somebody out for lying about someone else lying being easier in the culture than calling somebody a bigot -- aka the same thing happened with the Richie Incognito bullying last year)

2) Giving the old chestnut "I may or may not have said this thing about nuking gays but don't really remember", which is fairly fucking ridiculous
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:17 PM on January 2


i see him doing a combination two step of "the locker room is a sacred space" and "i'm don't hate anybody/i'm not homophobic" to not directly answer the question with a good helping of "i don't recall."
posted by nadawi at 1:19 PM on January 2 [5 favorites]


The third option is "I was on cold medication at the time" or the ever-popular "exhaustion".
posted by elizardbits at 1:20 PM on January 2 [5 favorites]


*YAWN*I'm feeling suuuuuuuper tired today guys. Don't you think we should just, I dunno, nuke the homos?
posted by Think_Long at 1:25 PM on January 2 [20 favorites]


Guys, I want to apologize in advance for my cold. I'm pretty sure I'm not contagious anymore, but all my sneezes sound like "We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows." I picked up some zinc tablets, but in the meantime can we try to get through this meeting?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:29 PM on January 2 [9 favorites]


"Hey, just poking my head into the showers once again to remind you how much I want to nuke the gays!"
posted by Sys Rq at 1:29 PM on January 2 [7 favorites]


A sports reporter could probably make a name for themselves if they really dug into what happened in the past year with the NFL and the players that advocated gays rights. Both Kluwe and Ayanbadejo have spent the last year unemployed. Additionally, Kerry Rhodes, who was a top safety last year didn't get picked up at all this year. Rhodes hadn't even came out in support of gay rights, he was just photographed with another man.
posted by drezdn at 1:30 PM on January 2 [11 favorites]


I admit I just looked up the Vikings roster to see if they had a player named Stuart.

They don't. This is why Priefer said what he did to a room full of people - he has nobody he likes, there, in the trailer park, to talk to.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:37 PM on January 2 [4 favorites]


The Vikings issued a statement.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:54 PM on January 2


the two step has begun!
posted by nadawi at 1:55 PM on January 2


JohnnyGunn - Any chance of a quote? Anything sports related is blocked here at work.
posted by BrianJ at 1:56 PM on January 2


The Minnesota Vikings were made aware of Chris Kluwe’s allegations for the first time today. We take them very seriously and will thoroughly review this matter.

As an organization, the Vikings consistently strive to create a supportive, respectful and accepting environment for all of our players, coaches and front office personnel. We do not tolerate discrimination at any level. The team has long respected our players’ and associates’ individual rights, and, as Chris specifically stated, Vikings ownership supports and promotes tolerance, including on the subject of marriage equality. Because he was identified with the Vikings, Chris was asked to be respectful while expressing his opinions. Team ownership and management also repeatedly emphasized to Chris that the Vikings would not impinge on his right to express his views.

Any notion that Chris was released from our football team due to his stance on marriage equality is entirely inaccurate and inconsistent with team policy. Chris was released strictly based on his football performance.

We will have further comment at the appropriate time.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:57 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


interestingly this also came out today: Spielman as an oh so noble knight
posted by edgeways at 1:58 PM on January 2


The wording on that statement is interesting - "We're looking into this matter" and "He wasn't released for his views, strictly on his performance". Does that mean they're only investigating the comments made by Priefer?
posted by TwoWordReview at 1:58 PM on January 2


Based on the statement from the Vikings, I am guessing that the owner, Zygi Wilf, is going to be very important in the way this plays out. Kluwe was very smart to put his comment about his son's friend's wedding on the record in the article.

Team ownership and management also repeatedly emphasized to Chris that the Vikings would not impinge on his right to express his views.


This makes it look to me like Wilf is supporting that comment of his, and putting the squeeze on Preifer.
posted by chavenet at 2:01 PM on January 2 [4 favorites]


My personal politics want to believe all of this, but I'm getting skeptical about a lot of things in my old age and just because I want all of this to be true doesn't mean it really is. Also doesn't mean it isn't.

For me, there's something weird about the writing style that makes me react, I don't know, unfavourably. It reads like someone embroiled in an argument on LiveJournal and is detailing every perceived wrong committed by the person they're mad at. It's the repetition of 'at not point was I contacted' like six times. The level of detail of specific dates is important if he was doing something like suing the Vikings (no idea whether he'd have a hope in hell of success), but he's evidently not contemplating that (else he'd not be writing articles in Deadspin). So I'm left feeling like he's come off as a bit of a crank.
posted by hoyland at 2:08 PM on January 2


Beyond calling out Preifer as a bigot, he also was calling out those who did not tell him his firing was coming as cowards. That's why "at no point was I contacted" is important.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:10 PM on January 2 [5 favorites]


I wonder if anybody's ever ranked NFL fanbases on a liberal/conservative (or Dem/Rep) spectrum, and, if so, where the Vikings fit in.
posted by box at 2:12 PM on January 2


So he provided too much detail, so his story is less credible?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 2:13 PM on January 2 [7 favorites]


> Does that mean they're only investigating the comments made by Priefer?

That's the only allegation that Kluwe made that can be confirmed as factual/non-factual. The idea that he was released because of his views is a hard one to demonstrate — there's almost certainly no smoking gun, no memo sent from Priefer to Frazier saying "this [slur]-lover needs to go," and even if there were, it would likely never see the light of day.

If I had to guess, I'd say that Priefer doesn't like Kluwe's views, and allowed that viewpoint (consciously or unconsciously) to affect his assessment of Kluwe's play. Outside of the very best and very worst punters, I think it's very, very hard to use stats to prove that one punter is better than another, since punts are chaotic plays with lots of confounding factors and a small sample size. I think a given performance would be "graded" by a coach as good or bad depending on the team and the situation.

I also think that only the very best players in professional sports can safely advocate for controversial causes without fear that it will affect their teams' willingness to keep them around. As an imperfect parallel, consider Terrell Owens — teams were willing to put up with the accompanying drama for as long as he was a top-tier receiver. When his production dropped off, he was out of the league in a flash, because there are a hundred guys who can catch 50 passes a year and keep their mouths shut.

And because it's pretty easy to find mid-level players, especially in the NFL, there is always a performance-related case to be made for swapping one player for another.

(I am not comparing Kluwe's advocacy to TO's buffoonery, except to say that a team might view them similarly in terms of their ability to attract "distractions.")
posted by savetheclocktower at 2:13 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


It's the repetition of 'at not point was I contacted' like six times.

the vikings maintained after releasing him that he had been kept in the loop about the competition for his job and priefer said he had been completely honest with kluwe in the days following the draft. kluwe was refuting that directly.
posted by nadawi at 2:18 PM on January 2 [3 favorites]


So he provided too much detail, so his story is less credible?

I'm suggesting he perhaps did a poor job of presenting that detail. Having those dates recorded gives him credibility if the Vikings dispute the conversations happened. I don't think telling me "on September 17th" instead of "in mid-September" actually helps me take him seriously. Having witnessed the Cubs organisation basically vanish Mark Grace's career for several years, I have no doubt an NFL team would sack a punter for being too politically outspoken, particularly if speaking out meant crossing someone with power. I'd basically assume that's what happened. I just don't think Kluwe's doing a good job of convincing me that's what happened.
posted by hoyland at 2:19 PM on January 2


kluwe has always struck me as someone who doesn't care if his message bristles. i don't think he was going into this trying to convince people - it has a distinct air of "this is what happened, take it or leave it."
posted by nadawi at 2:21 PM on January 2 [5 favorites]


Kluwe tries to address the performance issue in his article. He correctly makes the claim that he is statistically in the top half of the league in performance and was the Vikings #1 punter historically. He also stated the stats showed his consistency over time. The part that is hard to verify is that he makes the claim that even with these good stats, he was asked to change his punting so as to help the team yet hurt his yardage averages. He says he was asked to punt it higher rather than farther to try to stop the returns. That is a credible claim, just hard to verify.

What is clear is that Kluwe is on the right side of the issue whether you define the issue as freedom of speech or specifically supporting human/gay rights.

Tactically, he has taken the offensive and laid out his case in a clear and logical manner and now the coaches are on the defensive and will have to 'prove' they are not bigots and assholes.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:22 PM on January 2 [4 favorites]


nadawi: "kluwe has always struck me as someone who doesn't care if his message bristles. i don't think he was going into this trying to convince people - it has a distinct air of "this is what happened, take it or leave it.""

I agree. Kluwe calls em as he sees em. I think he has the beliefs that history will show him and/or his positions to be correct rather than worrying about short term beliefs or fallout. I wouldn't be surprised if he showed up here to participate in an intellectual discussion of the issues, but I doubt he will as he also is not looking for a circus. He pretty plainly and clearly stated his goal with his article. No more jobs for those bigots.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:27 PM on January 2


> I don't think telling me "on September 17th" instead of "in mid-September" actually helps me take him seriously.

But why does the presence of that detail cause you to take him less seriously? I doubt it occurred to him that adding vagueness to his account would make it more persuasive.
posted by savetheclocktower at 2:29 PM on January 2 [7 favorites]


Something I find very interesting about this situation is how Kluwe has taken the "unemployable distraction" label and managed to apply it equally to Priefer. If the Vikings (or anyone else) hire him as a coach, I guarantee that everyone will have to field some uncomfortable questions about what Priefer's been accused of. Just like with Kluwe, that's not to say they couldn't be brushed aside by management that supported them and valued their contributions above whatever unwanted publicity might accrue, but that's something they're going to have to think twice about it first. Right now, they're both in basically the same situation as far as their future employment in high-profile positions goes.

It's also sort of a retort to the people who say that Kluwe's politics are a distraction from helping his team win without realizing that creating a workplace environment like Priefer did is itself political and is just as if not more distracting to anyone who disagrees with him. It's understandable that people in high-risk careers tend to value maintaining the status quo, but the current institutionalized homophobia in most professional sports does absolutely nothing to help teams win game and might actually prevent them from getting the most out of their players, not to mention being immoral in itself.
posted by Copronymus at 2:30 PM on January 2 [75 favorites]


Copronymus, that's a really insightful read on this situation. That whole aspect of things is what puts Kluwe's article beyond a simple bridge-burning.
posted by Ipsifendus at 2:41 PM on January 2


I think Kluwe tried really hard to be precise and specific, and also mentioned many things (like the nuke the gays comment) that were said in the presence of other players. Presumably, it's possible that other players might be able to verify or dispute what was said, if they are willing to comment.

Having been in a hostile work environment where things were constantly said by my boss that were extremely offensive, but were not taken seriously by management, I think he's taken the only approach you can; document, provide as many collaborating details as possible, and write clearly. He's not a pro writer, so his "tone" or repetition might ruffle some feathers, but then, if his writing were polished, you could just as easily accuse him of rearranging the narrative to read better.

Like I said, having been in a similar situation, it wouldn't surprise me if there were a lot of other things said that Kluwe could not document/didn't have witnesses for that he did not include because it didn't help his case. A determined bigot can make a homophobic/sexist comment by using the right body language, facial expression, and vocal tone, but that on paper looks completely innocuous. That way they can always claim they are joking/misunderstood.
posted by emjaybee at 2:42 PM on January 2 [8 favorites]


He says he wrote the piece just after it all happened, in case he 'd need a detailed account in the future. It makes sense that he'd include dates and details in case the law becomes involved in any way.

On AskMe we often urge people to document everything. I think ot makes it sound more rather than less authentic.
posted by Omnomnom at 2:42 PM on January 2 [5 favorites]


The part that is hard to verify is that he makes the claim that even with these good stats, he was asked to change his punting so as to help the team yet hurt his yardage averages. He says he was asked to punt it higher rather than farther to try to stop the returns. That is a credible claim, just hard to verify.

This (and the bit about wildly arbitrary performance points) is Kluwe playing the Ninth Doctor to Priefer's Harriet Jones.
posted by pokermonk at 2:42 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


But why does the presence of that detail cause you to take him less seriously? I doubt it occurred to him that adding vagueness to his account would make it more persuasive.

Because it makes him sound like a crank? He's wandered into what is, for me anyway, a very specific style of writing that does not reflect well on the author.

Would people be happier if I said I think the piece would be more effective if written in a different style? Because that's what I'm saying.
posted by hoyland at 2:42 PM on January 2


Chris Kluwe and Duck Dynasty guy are just two sides of the same coin. If your boss doesn't like you or the negative publicity you bring to the organization, you will be fired or suspended.
Neither case has anything to do with free speech as protected in the constitution, which is only protection from government legislation that constrains speech.

That said, I'd love to see Kluwe continue his career with the CFL, particularly my Hamilton Ti-Cats.
As for Duck Dynasty, it can disappear forever from my life along with its viewers.
posted by rocket88 at 2:46 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Would people be happier if I said I think the piece would be more effective if written in a different style?

You could say that, but I'd consider it pretty irrelevant. The events he's relating are what matters, why bother worrying about the exact manner in which he does so.
posted by kiltedtaco at 2:50 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


legally they're the same coin, sure - but ethically there's a huge difference between speaking for gay rights and speaking against (while also talking about singing jim crow cotton picking black men and how you need to marry 15 year olds so they don't become gold diggers). just because the vikings are legally protected doesn't absolve them from being a giant bag of dicks.
posted by nadawi at 2:50 PM on January 2 [7 favorites]


Near the front, I was thinking, Oh shit, Chris, don't make me like Zygi Wilf, who is the poster boy for asshole NFL owners who threaten to move their crappy team to Los Angeles unless the current city gives him a free stadium every six years. By the time I finished... well, I can't really blame Wilf for not reaching waaay down to protect a punter from an asshole coordinator, but I guess I can at least not like him too much more.

But man, if he promotes that douchenozzle to head coach...
posted by Etrigan at 2:53 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


You could say that, but I'd consider it pretty irrelevant. The events he's relating are what matters, why bother worrying about the exact manner in which he does so.

Well... right now there seem to have been no repercussions beyond a vague statement from the Vikings. I'm not shocked by either homophobia from a football coach, nor that Kluwe was pushed out. So I'm not sure what else I'm going to talk about, other than I don't think it was a particularly effective piece. I'm certain Kluwe is not the only person to have lost a job in Minnesota as a result of opposing the stupid Marriage Amendment. On top of that, despite legal protection in Minnesota, people get pushed out of employment subtly and not-so-subtly all the time for being queer. I'm certainly not shocked. I'm kind of wishing Kluwe bothered fitting this story into a bigger picture, either in football or in Minnesota, given that he's presumably better placed that a lot of people to survive losing a job from homophobia.
posted by hoyland at 2:57 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


I should add that "sounds like a crank" is a pretty classic way to dismiss criticism of institutions made by individuals, and we would all be better off if we actively tried to tone down our crank-filter and focus on the actual facts at hand. Trying to read into his writing style to determine the veracity of the story is an absolutely hopeless exercise.
posted by kiltedtaco at 2:57 PM on January 2 [13 favorites]


As this story has gained traction at other places around the Intrawebs, I've seen some comments that make me really sad. Not just the "lolgaypeople" kinds of comments that, inevitably and inexorably, get posted in response to these kinds of stories, but the kinds of comments that show how beat down we American workers are.

I'm talking about the things like "Well, duh, of course he was let go. He wasn't a superstar and he rocked the boat" and "You should just keep your head down and do your job" and "They were looking for a reason to let him go and pay someone less to do his job, and he gave them one."

As if people should live in perpetual fear that, unless they're top level, grade A superstars, then their boss is just itching to drop the hammer on them at any moment and replace them. And this is perfectly fine. And, as a result, we should all be meek and humble and quiet -- even about social justice issues.

Good grief.
posted by lord_wolf at 3:01 PM on January 2 [70 favorites]


As for Kluwe, I can balance in my head that (a) he's on the level, (b) that kind of homophobia goes unchallenged in many a locker room, and (c) sending Kluwe packing WAS a good business decision in straight-up cost-for-on-field-performance metrics. It will be interesting to see how much it ends up costing the Vikings in terms of reputation and PR, though.

Can someone who is more knowledgeable about football comment on Kluwe's allegation that he was asked to support the team in a way that directly impacted his stats and made him look bad? JohnnyGunn said it was credible - is that a thing that frequently happens, and if so is it not documented or known at the time?

I guess I'm wondering if everyone knew from Kluwe's stats he was being asked to pull his punches or whatnot.
posted by winna at 3:15 PM on January 2


loving this dave zirin write up.
posted by nadawi at 3:16 PM on January 2 [5 favorites]


I can't claim credibility regarding negative impact on stats, but depending on the situation in many team sports, a player provides their team with a better opportunity for success by pulling punches. One baseball example is the intentional walk.

If the punt coverage is slow, or unable to get past the defenders, and the ball is kicked very far, the returner has a better opportunity to gain a lot of yards. Asking Kluwe to kick the ball higher and shorter would give his teammates more time and less distance to converge upon the returner and either force them to call for a "fair catch" or make a tackle.
posted by CancerMan at 3:24 PM on January 2


Can someone who is more knowledgeable about football comment on Kluwe's allegation that he was asked to support the team in a way that directly impacted his stats and made him look bad?

Yeah. That's definitely credible and a thing that happens. Long punts are better for the punter's stats but are more likely to be returned. High, short punts give the coverage team more time to get to the returner and result in fewer and shorter returns.
posted by chrchr at 3:25 PM on January 2


it's a very common thing, asking players to reduce their own performance to enhance the team's ability to win, that it wouldn't have been worth a mention unless kluwe complained about it at the time (which would be pretty unthinkable for that position). you see this become an issue more commonly with receivers wanting more carries of the ball or defensive players wanting more sacks/interceptions - they get accused of being selfish and not playing for the team (or the coaches are brought to task for not giving star players the chance to win).
posted by nadawi at 3:26 PM on January 2


So he provided too much detail, so his story is less credible?

With modern technology, proof is so easily fabricated.

Really, less proof is more.
posted by Dark Messiah at 3:28 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


He wasn't asked to pull his punches so to speak, but rather, because his co-special teams players had a hard time covering his punts, he was asked to kick them higher giving the players time to get downfield thus causing more fair catches (no run backs). In theory his net yardage (distance traveled less return yards) could be the same, worse or better.

From Kluwe's standpoint, his worth is as a distance punter. Presumably the team has players that can get downfield and cover the punt so you would want longer ones (except in certain situations where you try to place it inside the 10 which is also a tracked stat).
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:29 PM on January 2


I don't think Kluwe thought anything suspicious about being asked to adjust his punts according to his team's ability. What I think really set him off was when the subsequent statistics were used as "official" reasons for why he should be let go.

It's like telling a salesman to scale back his production so others in his company can catch up, and then getting fired for not meeting quota.
posted by CancerMan at 3:30 PM on January 2 [22 favorites]


agreed, CancerMan - my read was that he was doing what he was told and the homophobe coach suddenly started reviewing him poorly for it in a way that coincided with his refusal to pull back his activism.
posted by nadawi at 3:32 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


Can someone who is more knowledgeable about football comment on Kluwe's allegation that he was asked to support the team in a way that directly impacted his stats and made him look bad? JohnnyGunn said it was credible - is that a thing that frequently happens, and if so is it not documented or known at the time?

I found this to be not particularly persuasive on its face--NFL teams are savvy enough to measure punters by substantially more than just how far they kick the ball on their average punt. Punting average is a stat, but it's not very straightforward to evaluate a punter efficacy based primarily on this stat.

What would matter is if the Vikings were to later claim that the reason they weren't renewing his contract is because his yards per punt average had decreased: if they made a claim like that it wouldn't be credible if it were also true that they had asked him to punt for less distance in order to give his coverage teams a better opportunity to make plays/force fair catches. A punter who is consistently outkicking his coverage just isn't a very good punter in the NFL even if he can boot the ball for a mile.

In the absence of Mike Preifer's repulsive comments, this just looks an awful lot like "average punter is replaced by younger punter after getting older and more expensive." Which is why the crux of his claim depends on the credibility of his reporting of Preifer's comments: good for Kluwe for documenting them at the time, and I would like to think that some of Kluwe's former teammates will have the courage to corroborate Kluwe's claims.
posted by MoonOrb at 3:41 PM on January 2 [4 favorites]


I think Kluwe oversold his case a bit by comparing his numbers that year to his own performance instead of his peers. Looking at traditional metrics, Kluwe was pretty much an average to below-average punter in 2012, and even if you give him a pass for a shitty kick coverage team, the team may have just wanted to upgrade to a younger, cheaper option out of college that could give them the same middling performance. I'm sure his outspoken comments didn't help him, and the team should absolutely get rid of the asshole who made these bigoted comments, but all other things being equal, Kluwe gets cut even if he doesn't speak out in support of LGBT rights.

(On preview, MoonOrb says it better.)
posted by tonycpsu at 3:43 PM on January 2


Kluwe addresses his cost to the team and acknowledges that as a longer tenured player his league minimum salary is higher than potential replacements. He concedes the point.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:49 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


A sane team would strongly consider shipping Kluwe out for a less expensive rookie. A sane team does not spend a fifth-round draft pick on that replacement, though, which gives the impression of unseemly haste.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:50 PM on January 2 [15 favorites]


he totally concedes the point - and that still doesn't explain them taking an alright punter in the 5th round unless they really wanted kluwe gone.
posted by nadawi at 3:50 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Mike Preifer responds. via Deadspin
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:52 PM on January 2


oh, he's not doing a two step, he's going for outright denial...

Mike Priefer: I vehemently deny Chris Kluwe’s allegations
posted by nadawi at 3:52 PM on January 2


Here is the text:

I vehemently deny today's allegations made by Chris Kluwe.

I want to be clear that I do not tolerate discrimination of any type and am respectful of all individuals. I personally have gay family members who I love and support just as I do any family member.

The primary reason I entered coaching was to affect people in a positive way. 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 today have not only attacked my character and insulted my professionalism, but they have also impacted my family. While my career focus is to be a great professional football coach, my number one priority has always been to be a protective husband and father to my wife and children.

I will continue to work hard for the Minnesota Vikings, the Wilf family and all of our loyal fans.

posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:53 PM on January 2


The old, I have friends and family that are gay defense.

I guess the next step is to get a player in the room at the time to collaborate Kluwe's claim.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:55 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


I personally have gay family members who I love and support just as I do any family member.

Aunt Dottie had better not accept any trips to an island.
posted by arcticseal at 3:55 PM on January 2 [7 favorites]


Really? Fifth round draft choices are not particularly valuable draft choices. Maybe you'll draft a good player, or even a starter, but when a high quality player comes out of the fifth round, usually the story is "can you believe this guy was a fifth rounder?", i.e., fifth round draft choices are not high.

If you truly wanted to replace a punter at all costs...you'd just...replace him and sign any number of guys who could come in and also do only a marginally less effective job of punting than Kluwe did.

So the notion that they used a mid to low round pick on a punter doesn't really say "we needed this guy gone no matter what" to me.

What says "we want this guy gone no matter what to me" are the bigoted comments that Preifer made, Frazier's comment about being "overruled" (paraphrasing here), and Rick Spielman texting Kluwe to "fly under the radar" re his public comments about the church, etc.
posted by MoonOrb at 3:57 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


I know a girl with a gay brother that she loves, and children she takes to Chick-fil-A for dinner.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:57 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


JohnnyGunn: "Kluwe addresses his cost to the team and acknowledges that as a longer tenured player his league minimum salary is higher than potential replacements. He concedes the point."

Conceding the point doesn't neutralize it. The point is an important one, and teams do spend picks on punters when they feel they want one. I am absolutely in agreement that the team probably wanted him gone for political/PR reasons, but using the fact that the team spent a pick on his replacement is very weak evidence for that case.

(Again, MoonOrb steals my thunder. I must be losing a step in my old age.)
posted by tonycpsu at 4:01 PM on January 2


here is the 5th round of the draft from this last year
posted by nadawi at 4:01 PM on January 2


well you surely don't draft a punter if you expect your current punter to fight for the job.
posted by nadawi at 4:03 PM on January 2


Just as a note, he played on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me once.
posted by Evilspork at 4:05 PM on January 2 [3 favorites]


nadawi: "well you surely don't draft a punter if you expect your current punter to fight for the job."

They didn't expect him to fight for the job -- of course they wanted to cut him. But they can make a credible case that they were doing it for reasons not related to his outspokenness.
posted by tonycpsu at 4:06 PM on January 2


A couple years ago (under the same management) the Vikings also drafted kicker Blair Walsh in a late round, which is why the 'they drafted a punter in the 5th round' argument isn't particularly convincing to me. The Vikings front office just seems to want specialists in the late draft rounds, unless there was also some conspiracy to get rid of their old kicker Ryan Longwell?
posted by john-a-dreams at 4:09 PM on January 2


I don't know nadawi, take a look at your link--last year they took a kicker with the 175th pick, compared to a punter this year with the 155th pick.
posted by MoonOrb at 4:09 PM on January 2


and taking that kicker was a huge news story because they did it to shove out a long tenured kicker. i don't disagree that the vikings suck at drafting.

kluwe's whole point with mentioning the 5th round pick up was that was when he realized they had been lying to him and that they were shoving him out. i'm not really sure what we're arguing about here.
posted by nadawi at 4:13 PM on January 2 [3 favorites]


kluwe even mentions longwell in his article.

After this point, Mike Priefer began saying less and less to me, and our interactions were stilted. I grew increasingly concerned that my job would be in jeopardy. I had seen the same pattern of behavior directed at our former placekicker, Ryan Longwell, whom Mike Priefer began to ignore during the 2011 season and who was cut after rookie minicamps in early May 2012.
posted by nadawi at 4:16 PM on January 2


i'm not really sure what we're arguing about here

Me either! Let's never argue again!
posted by MoonOrb at 4:37 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


I don't think Kluwe's primary point is that he was forced out because of his outspoken support for gay rights. He knows that while that may be true and he thinks it probably is true, that proving it or suing or whatever regarding that is a quagmire.

He very clearly states why he wrote this. He wants the bigots Mike Preifer and the other two assholes to never work again in the NFL and to be exposed for what they are, bigots and assholes.

Although I applaud him and support him, it is sort of a scorched earth plan. You fuck up my livelihood, and I am doing the same thing right back. Most workers don't have the platform from which to shout out about their (former) employer. Kluwe through his position as a professional athlete and his use of social media built up his own platform and is using it adeptly. In this case, I think the end does justify the means.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:37 PM on January 2 [6 favorites]


He wants the bigots Mike Preifer and the other two assholes to never work again in the NFL...

To be precise, it's only Priefer that he wishes this upon. About the other two guys, he writes "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."
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:43 PM on January 2


So here we are confronting the ugly reality of the human condition. Somebody here is an evil lying sack of shit.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 4:44 PM on January 2


I can't help but think if Kluwe and Deadspin had framed the story as "Mike Preifer, special teams coach, said homophobic things" it would have died a much quieter death than "I was fired for my marriage equality activism." Even a statement like "We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows" wouldn't have the same press punch.

The way he told the story might have complicated the real message, but it guaranteed the story was told.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:44 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


I don't think Kluwe's primary point is that he was forced out because of his outspoken support for gay rights.

Well, yes, except the piece he wrote is titled "I was an NFL Player until I was fired by two Cowards and a Bigot."

Also, Priefer deserves to be called out for what he said, so even if it is perhaps true that Kluwe's career would have ended in any event, it's worthwhile to make the callout, and had the story just been "my special teams coach was a bigot," it wouldn't have gotten much traction.

On preview, what MCMikeNamara just said.
posted by MoonOrb at 4:47 PM on January 2


I think that it's possible to have conflicted thoughts about a subject that leave you feeling okay with occasionally saying very ugly things that you don't believe 100%. Like, I will still say things in certain environments that, if other people I know were present, I'd be utterly ashamed to say. I am willing to believe that Priefer doesn't actually want to nuke all gay people, that he felt the need to antagonize Kluwe after the guy made a big deal in the media and led to people making angry phone calls, and that he maybe even felt like his players ought to tolerate his hyperbole because the locker room is sacred or whatever.

But I also believe that that saying ugly things is saying ugly things, and that you are ultimately responsible for what comes out of your mouth. I've lost friends over horrible shit that I've said, and I pretty much deserved to. Priefer has to deal with this backlash even if he DIDN'T fire Kluwe for reasons of bigotry, because his behaviors led people to believe that he was acting out of homophobic kneejerkism, and the person responsible for those behaviors is Priefer. I also think that as a public figure, a part of your job is making sure you don't put yourself in situations where words you've said can be used against you like this, and if you have a player who's a known writer with a vehement dislike of homophobia, you don't tell him you want to nuke all the gay people and then fire him. Maybe one or the other, but certainly not both.

I think it's possible to believe every word that Priefer wrote, even feel bad for him maybe, and then go right back on hoping he gets fired and even feeling gleeful about this comeuppance. Because that's pretty much where I'm at right now.
posted by Rory Marinich at 4:57 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


MCMikeNamara and MoonOrb, both good points. I wonder who wrote the headlines, Kluwe or the Deadspin editors. I read Deadspin, but let's face it, they are in the business of selling something (page views? click throughs?) so the are going to look for a controversial headline or story angle.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:57 PM on January 2


Gawker & Deadspin have both recently dialed up the clickbaitiness of their headlines (which is saying something, given Gawker Media's previously established "anything for page views" business model) and it hasn't gone unnoticed by the regular commentators. I'd be willing to lay money on that headline being written by someone at Deadspin or Gawker rather than Kluwe.

I actually think Kluwe's piece was originally written as a deposition or incident report of some sort, which would explain all the specificity of the times and dates. He probably just punched it and sunmitted it to Deadspin up once the he saw that Preiffer was being considered for the Vikes HC job.
posted by KingEdRa at 5:09 PM on January 2


MCMikeNamara and MoonOrb, both good points. I wonder who wrote the headlines, Kluwe or the Deadspin editors. I read Deadspin, but let's face it, they are in the business of selling something (page views? click throughs?) so the are going to look for a controversial headline or story angle.

For a story told in the first person, with this level of impact on the writer's career and especially considering how inflammatory the headline is, I'm sure they checked with Kluwe first if it was ok.
posted by gkhan at 5:11 PM on January 2


I actually think Kluwe's piece was originally written as a deposition or incident report of some sort, which would explain all the specificity of the times and dates.

He says he wrote it immediately after the events, as a way to help him recall specifics if he were ever required to in the future, one assumes as part of some sort of lawsuit.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:15 PM on January 2


He says he wrote it immediately after the events, as a way to help him recall specifics if he were ever required to in the future, one assumes as part of some sort of lawsuit.

Or Deadspin story.
posted by gkhan at 5:16 PM on January 2


i wouldn't be sure about that. headlines are often not written by the person who wrote the article.
posted by nadawi at 5:16 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


In fact, "headlines aren't written by the person who wrote the article" is pretty much par for the course in Journalism. So I would lean heavily toward "Kluwe didn't write the headline"

For whatever that is worth.
posted by Twain Device at 5:28 PM on January 2


No, sure, I know that writers generally don't write their own headlines, or even know what it is prior to being published. I'm just saying that when it's a story of this magnitude, whose headline is so inflammatory that the writer's career is effectively over, I bet they at least gave him a "Hey Chris, this the headline we're putting on it, that cool with you?" phone call. Especially since the headline is written in first person.

This is not just any other story, is what I'm saying.
posted by gkhan at 5:34 PM on January 2


So would Kluwe consider the CFL? How would his stats stack up against the current leaderboard?

For what it's worth, Kluwe's average yards per punt (45 in 2012 - 22nd out of 32) would stand him in good stead in the CFL; he'd be third of nine punters. Punting is also more important in the CFL; teams punt a third more often than the NFL (what with there being only 3 downs). The problem is that CFL lineups require a certain minimum number of "non-import" players (i.e. Canadians), and teams usually concentrate their import players in the most pivotal positions; all of the starting quarterbacks are Americans, for instance.

It's a little unfortunate, because he would be welcomed up here. League MVP and Canadian athlete of the year Jon Cornish (of the Calgary Stampeders, for everyone who wants to talk about how conservative Calgary is) has been very vocal about his support for LGBT rights, given his lesbian mothers. Here's an interview on his beliefs on homophobia and transphobia in sports, along with a cut to Stampeders coach John Hufnagel being asked if he would welcome a gay player, with the response: "Can he throw? Can he catch? Is he fast? It's a free country."
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 5:41 PM on January 2 [7 favorites]


that's giving deadspin a lot of credit. they published an article using direct quotes from a victim of sexual harassment that she didn't want published because it meant they got the scoop on dong-gate. kluwe is likely not surprised since he worked with them before but i see no reason to think he wrote or approved the headline. and it's kind of a weird thing to keep insisting with no evidence since it's not the way it's normally done even by outfits with journalistic integrity.
posted by nadawi at 5:41 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


Thank you for the clarification, you all. I think the political and strategic aspects of football are fascinating.
posted by winna at 5:45 PM on January 2


@nadawi: Those are fair points.
posted by gkhan at 5:57 PM on January 2


So the notion that they used a mid to low round pick on a punter doesn't really say "we needed this guy gone no matter what" to me.

As this article goes into great detail to describe, punters aren't usually drafted -- there were only 36 drafted in the two decade 1993-2012 period - and when they are, they are usually late in the draft (162nd pick on average, Kluwe's replacement was drafted 155th).

Here's the most recent teams who drafted punters, along with how well their incumbent punters had done in the previous season (I looked back a few seasons earlier through around 2004, but I have a new year's resolution to limit the volume of punting statistics I post to MetaFilter.):
Year  Team  Rnd  Prev Yds (rank)
2010  NE     5     39.7 (32)
2010  TB     6     41.3 (30)
2010  NYG    7     40.7 (31)
2011  ATL    6     40.7 (30)
2012  JAX    3     42.7 (29)
2012  CAR    6     42.7 (28)
2013  MIN    5     45.0 (22)
2013  DET    5     41.5 (32)
Kluwe didn't have a spectacular year in 2012, but all of the other teams were replacing absolutely terrible punters. It would certainly be more cut-and-dried if he'd made the Pro Bowl the previous season, but he's pretty clearly the best punter to be replaced by a draft pick in years.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 6:14 PM on January 2 [17 favorites]


2012  JAX    3     42.7 (29)
Jacksonville 3rd-Round Pick Punter Bryan Anger: 'I Will Punt The Jaguars To Greatness'
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 6:39 PM on January 2 [10 favorites]


Well, right. They had obviously decided to replace him. They did need a punter once they made that decision. But what I'm questioning is whether it's reasonable to infer that they replaced him because of his marriage equality advocacy from the fact that they picked a punter with the 155th draft choice. I don't think you can make that inference.

It's not inconsistent with the argument that they replaced him because of that, of course. But it's not meaningful evidence in favor of that argument. That's all.

There's much better evidence in Kluwe's favor, like the actual words of the Vikings coaches and GMs.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:45 PM on January 2


"I don't think you can make that inference. "

I don't think it's an iron-clad induction, but given what we know, it seems like bigotry was most likely what put it over the top. Ergo, fired for advocacy.
posted by klangklangston at 6:48 PM on January 2


I meant, I don't think you can infer anything from the Vikings using a 5th round pick on a new punter. That says nothing more than "the Vikings wanted a new punter." It adds nothing to the "because they didn't like their old punter speaking out about marriage equality" side of things. I think based on the rest of the evidence you can certainly infer he was fired for his advocacy.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:54 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


I think that Chris Kluwe was very brave, very noble... and VERY outspoken.

It's one thing for a NFL football team's lawyers to say "Well, you can say something, as long as you're very clear that you are speaking as yourself, and not on the behalf of the team..."

But it's another thing, presumably, for upper management of a major NFL team to watch in horror as your kicker calls a local elected official a "narcissistic fromunda stain", whose "vitriolic hatred and bigotry" -- which, when combined with his presumably closeted "lustful cockmonster" tendencies - makes him so "mind-boggingly stupid" as to basically "hate freedom".

Which goes to show that just because you have the legal right to say something, that doesn't mean that how you say it doesn't matter. Contractually, just about any boss can fire you not for what you say, but for how you say it, if it reflects negatively on the organization. Even as homosexuals are just starting to be treated as desirable local fans by major league sports organizations, that doesn't mean that they don't remain a staunchly bigot-inclusive organization. You don't need the relatively small-fish special teams coordinator to be an outright bigot in order to get someone fired, especially with powerful local politicians, religious organizations, and fans breathing down the team's neck.

In truth, suggesting that there were only two cowards kind of misses the point. For-profit, bigot-inclusive organizations such as the NFL are pretty uniformly cowards, when push comes to shove and issues of money and power are on the line. The idea that professional sports had a golden era where they were groundbreaking in their support of civil rights... well, that's a complete fiction, unless you think that the idea of baseball teams in New York acting in lockstep with other teams in excluding some of the world's best baseball players for over sixty years of professional baseball -- and over 148 years after emancipation was made law in New York -- was a real act of moral courage on the part of anyone other than Jackie Robinson himself. Nearly twenty years after Jackie Robinson, when Hank Aaron became the first black player in the South, he'd get hate mail almost every day, and would have racial slurs hurled at him every night. His wife was even arrested while trying to gain access the stadium.

So yeah... not a lot of institutional bravery in pro sports... and they don't appreciate players who put them in the uncomfortable position of actually having to take a stand on any divisive issue, no matter how just the cause.

Kluwe should be made Grand Marshall of every Pride Day he can make it to, and people like Howard Stern should be paying top dollar to get him on their shows... but, that said, he should probably stay away from the diplomatic corps.
posted by markkraft at 6:55 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


"I don't think Kluwe's primary point is that he was forced out because of his outspoken support for gay rights.

MoonOrb: Well, yes, except the piece he wrote is titled "I was an NFL Player until I was fired by two Cowards and a Bigot."
"

Whether he personally came up with the idea to use such an inflammatory title or not, I don't think it's out of sync with the point he makes in his piece -- he acknowledges clearly right up front that he cannot actually prove that his support for gay rights was the official reason that he was fired, then presents a sort of testimony as to why he does feel justified in calling out Priefer as a bigot, and Spielman and Frazier as cowards.
posted by desuetude at 7:15 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


One thing that might make this tough to corroborate is that special team players (outside of the punter/kicker) are usually the players on shakiest ground, so if any of them are still with the Vikings, they might not want to speak out.
posted by drezdn at 7:30 PM on January 2 [3 favorites]


I find it very telling that Priefer never specifically denies the nuking gays comment.

If I was falsely accused of saying such a vile thing, any statement I made would open with a very strong, specifc and direct refutation of said comment.
posted by marsha56 at 8:26 PM on January 2 [6 favorites]


If I was falsely accused of saying such a vile thing, any statement I made would open with a very strong, specifc and direct refutation of said comment.

Not to defend a bigot - and my son is gay, so bear that in mind - but, dude said :
"I vehemently deny today's allegations made by Chris Kluwe."
That's... well, it's a denial that he said what Kluwe said he said.

I think he's fighting for his career - hence the anger in his response - and I think he thinks he's done nothing wrong.

I don't believe him - I find Kluwe to be more credible. But he did deny saying what Kluwe reported him to have said.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:35 PM on January 2


I made that quip about the Bears needing a punter.

I was actually dead serious. The current Bears punter, Adam Podlesh, is horrible. Chris Kluwe would be a major upgrade over him. For fills sale

No, punters are not drafted in early rounds. But they are in fact drafted -- and unlike most 5-7 round picks, they tend to make the squad. There are a lot of teams that would benefit from having Chris Kluwe kicking for them, period, end of statement.

And here's the thing - the fact that he's not kicking for them? That's a huge statement.

Doubly so about my beloved Bears, who have a completely suck punter. FOR FUCK SAKE SIGN HIM.

Get over the fact that many people like guys. After all, many women do, and you don't have a problem with that!
posted by eriko at 8:44 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


A slightly longer pull from Priefer's statement:

I vehemently deny today's allegations made by Chris Kluwe.

I want to be clear that I do not tolerate discrimination of any type and am respectful of all individuals. I personally have gay family members who I love and support just as I do any family member.


This could be read several ways, which is what Priefer intends. You are interpreting this statement to mean that Priefer is claiming that everything Kluwe said about him is a lie.

I'm interpreting this as a standard CYA bigot trope after being accused of saying vile bigoted thing. Kluwe called him a bigot. He's claiming not to be a bigot and to prove it, "I personally have gay family members, yadda, yadda, yadda ...".

Again, if I were accused of saying this specific vile thing, and I didn't say it and truly understood why it was so vile, I would very specifically deny this specific statement, very specifically.

ymmv...
posted by marsha56 at 9:29 PM on January 2 [3 favorites]


Kluwe's pretty cool, and Priefer sounds pretty terrible, but the moment I read that they wanted to put him on the national circuit (i.e. provide corporate PR support) and he demanded to instead run his own show while being a public figure for the Vikings -- well, there's no corporate environment in the world in which that works. That's an incompatibility independent of opinion. Just is.

Really looking forward to what Kluwe does now. Seems like a guy who's been planning his post-football life for some time.
posted by effugas at 10:26 PM on January 2


The headline and subsequent denial of allegations are similar in that they are plainly stated unambiguous statements but there's plenty of room for interpretation and misinterpretation that would seem intentional (in one case to get attention, in the other to reject unwanted attention without being too specific), and good ol' common sense folks see right through one of them and can feel good about the opinion they hold, missing the nuance on one "side" while pointing it out in the other.

One is on the offensive and one is on the defensive, and one guy seems to be a general bad-ass willing to speak his mind to a fault while the other seems to be a dick who was exhausted with the bad-ass getting so much attention and probably felt like his buttons were being deliberately pushed, so he said something he either earnestly believes or doesn't, in either case to basically be a dick like when your younger kid is playing with an older kid's toy because the older kid is not around to snatch it away, and then the older kid spontaneously decides that the toy is a piece of shit beneath their age and dignity anyway.
posted by lordaych at 10:48 PM on January 2


I want to say I started following Kluwe on Twitter when he took up for somebody who got fired for playing World of Warcraft or something like that. It's impossible to search for right now with the flurry of coverage of this story.

Regardless, Kluwe is one of the people that keeps me coming back to Twitter. I knew what the story was going to be even before I read it this morning after I saw his tweet, "Welp, crossed the Rubicon today. Sometimes life ain't pretty, folks. So it goes." Interestingly, he stayed off Twitter all day afterwards.

I'm a little worried THE MAN will find a way to make Kluwe the bad guy in this somehow. Even so, I hope he keeps being awesome.
posted by ob1quixote at 11:21 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


This is a good teachable moment for various contingents of people...

Straw Man: "He deserved to get fired for saying all of that stuff even though I agree with him. He should've known better."

Me: "If you agree with him, you should know that he does not deserve to be fired. He shouldn't expect anything less, which is evidence that we need more people like him normalizing the acceptance of LGBT rights in traditionally "traditional" contexts, but by judging him and saying he deserves to be fired, you do a disservice to people everywhere who want to use their platform to speak out against injustice. You should be grateful he was willing to make this sacrifice even if it was done clumsily and impulsively. You can even feel that he was stupid or impulsive in his actions but we shouldn't live in a world where people *deserve* to lose their livelihood for speaking out in favor of civil liberties for a marginalized class."

Straw Man: "Hey, I thought we had freedom of speech in this country!"

Me: "The first amendment doesn't protect you from losing your job, it prevents the government from creating laws that put you into a gulag, as one example, for expressing undesirable opinions. And if you're a progressive on this issue, I'd expect you to know better when it comes to the first amendment, and you probably do when it comes to conservative personalities who take heat from time to time, but your logic is suddenly skewed or you're just being disingenuous. This is actually kind of weird. WTF. Turn this back around on somebody next time one of your conservative friends freaks out about Rush Limbaugh losing a sponsor due to saying the next dumb-ass thing that gets him into control."

Straw Man: "He doesn't deserve to lose his job, but he should've known better. I have no sympathy for people who think they can just say whatever they want without consequences."

Me: "You should have some sympathy on a case by case basis, because that's how unpopular but moral progress is made. You don't have to even do anything to support him, but don't fault him for making the choices he made knowing the risks he was taking. By people speaking out and taking risks, they can use their platforms at their own peril and to our benefit. You should be somehow vaguely grateful at the very least for what he did, in my opinion. Unless of course you want me to take away your NOT-GAYIST card."

Straw Man: "I don't want him representing LGBT people as an activist really, because he was all half-cocked and kind of a dick about it and what's with that 'fromunda' shit?"

Me: "Sure, he was a bull in a China shop in this regard and comes across as a pretty typical tough football dude, because that's what he is, but he's OUR stereotypical impulsive football dude, and he was extra-contrarian on our behalf in arguably hostile territory, knowing what might happen. Be happy that he's not promoting birtherism, defending dog fighting, or preaching for armed rebellion against the US. His word choices when expressing his opinions do not damage the LGBT community except in the eyes of those who we'll never win over anyway, who tar an entire group based on their impressions of a single encounter with an individual.

If you think that he somehow set LGBT rights back, ask yourself what reasonable person would judge an entire group of people based on the way an athlete decided to support their cause, and whether you'd want them in your ranks anyway. And consider how many people actually have joined our ranks as a result of him using his platform, "coming out of the closet" even simply in support, because times are changing enough to where some NFL athletes are willing to speak out against homophobia."

Straw Man: "He deserved to be fired and I hate the gays, good riddance."

Me: "Once homophobia largely dies off in droves due to demographic changes there will be this totally gay club dance called the "good rid dance" and it'll be about how dumbasses like you are finally completely marginalized into irrelevance. But you're free to continue functioning in society, having sex with whoever you want, etc. Because we don't live in magical conservative thinking land, gay people having rights doesn't actually affect your ability to have rights.

Just your previously openly-expressed hate will be socially unacceptable in most settings and the wheels will keep turning until even your closest friends are like "dude that's not cool" next time you utter "fucking faggots," assuming you aren't dead by then. You should just stop saying that because it could cost you your job or a relationship with a less hateful person."

Straw Man: "I like tacos."

Me: "Let's get tacos"
posted by lordaych at 11:27 PM on January 2 [13 favorites]


The "did he write and / or approve the headline or not" derail is kind of weird and pointless, considering that within the body of the article he wrote: "...I was fired by Mike Priefer, a bigot who didn't agree with the cause I was working for, and two cowards, Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman." Which says exactly the same thing as the headline.
posted by dersins at 2:10 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Good for Chris Kluwe. What he did was brave. Things are going to work out for him.
posted by Renoroc at 4:38 AM on January 3


elizardbits: "The third option is "I was on cold medication at the time" or the ever-popular "exhaustion"."
I believe the term you're looking for is tired and emotional.
posted by brokkr at 5:03 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


If you think that he somehow set LGBT rights back, ask yourself what reasonable person would judge an entire group of people based on the way an athlete decided to support their cause, and whether you'd want them in your ranks anyway. And consider how many people actually have joined our ranks as a result of him using his platform, "coming out of the closet" even simply in support, because times are changing enough to where some NFL athletes are willing to speak out against homophobia.

Actually, I think the question of how effective Kluwe is as an ally is an important one. He's a straight guy who gets a hell of a lot of attention for being an ally, which isn't doing anyone any good if his allyship is ineffective. My feeling is that his efficacy is limited to the world of football, which isn't a problem, but does mean I'm not really able to assess it. I have relatives who almost certainly voted yes on the damn amendment, who at least have enough of an interest in the Vikings to know who Kluwe is for football reasons, who would be the people he'd affect, but I bailed on Thanksgiving dinner last year, so don't actually know what they think.
posted by hoyland at 5:46 AM on January 3


i think his efficacy is limited, but just not to football - it probably spiders out to most american professional sports. i don't like basketball or baseball, but because i'm a football fan, their news comes across my view. i think he also hits gamer/reddit communities - they love having a football playing nerd among their ranks. this doesn't really make him different than any other media figure - he reaches those who know who he is. beyond that - even for people who don't know a lot about him, it continues to be important for queer people (probably especially young people) to see dudes like him who unabashedly support our rights as humans.

as to allies taking up space - when patrick burke wrote about the problems with being a professional ally, kluwe responded with agreement so i think he at least considers these issues.
posted by nadawi at 6:25 AM on January 3


Kluwe was a distraction. An NFL punter is almost a part-time job and they have loads of free time and many (if not most) of their teammates consider them low caste. When his superiors said he could go ahead and do this activism they had no clue what they were signing off on. And so they changed their minds. At which point Kluwe suicide bombed his NFL career. If you are Terrel Owens in his prime you can be distracting. If you are Terrel Owens and you lose one step you're out.

Nick Wright had an excellent interview with Kluwe at 9:30 CST Fri 3 January on CBS radio in Houston. Their website is crap and they are not fast about archiving but I bet this will be up there someplace today. I will poke around for it later and if I can find it I will post a link to the interview. He said in the interview he knew he was torching his NFL career but he thought it was worth it.
posted by bukvich at 8:01 AM on January 3


At which point Kluwe suicide bombed his NFL career. If you are Terrel Owens in his prime you can be distracting. If you are Terrel Owens and you lose one step you're out.

I know you think this is a reasonable statement, but all I see is the mechanism by which privilege defends itself.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:15 AM on January 3 [11 favorites]


These guys are not privileged. They are totalitarian.
posted by bukvich at 8:19 AM on January 3


If you're right and he knew his career was going down in flames, all I can say is that I respect the man more. The mark of a real ally is that they continue to be an ally when they have something they might lose as a result.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:21 AM on January 3 [15 favorites]


I've heard some sports media comment about Kluwe's letter, and almost to a man (so far it's always been men) they say Kluwe should not have written it. Among the reasons is that he's not a superstar like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, both of whom don't seem to have a problem with keeping "politics and religion" out of football. Others have stated that Kluwe is an average punter at best, so it shouldn't be a surprise that he was let go.

Obviously they've missed the whole point of the letter, but it struck me as odd that they would voice these opinions on local and national media and yet not bother to ask Kluwe for an interview.
posted by CancerMan at 8:58 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


One thing I haven't read much of, aside from Kevin Seifert's piece on ESPN.com, is the extent to which the locker room culture Kluwe experienced as a Viking is similar to the locker room culture existing in the Miami Dolphins-Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito episode from earlier this season.

One of the criticisms Kluwe faces, implicit or explicit, is that there is something unseemly or improper about airing the dirty laundry of an NFL clubhouse; or more specifically, that abusive hate speech is simply part of NFL clubhouse culture, and it's taboo to publically discuss internal grievances, because everyone knows that this is how players talk to players and coaches talk to coaches, and, besides, when you've got a beef with a coach or a player on your team, the one way you don't handle it is by publicizing it.

Since I think the main import of Kluwe's Deadspin piece is what it reveals about Priefer's words and actions--and Priefer's unsuitability as a coach--the tie-in to the Martin/Incognito incident feels rather strong. From my point of view, that's the real story here--players shouldn't have to tolerate this kind of conduct from their supervisors or peers--and publicizing this is a good thing, not a bad thing.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:19 AM on January 3 [6 favorites]


Most of the Houston radio interview is summarized on their blog post here. Do not read the comments. It would not surprise me if the audio never goes up or the blog post gets deleted.
posted by bukvich at 11:57 AM on January 3


The endless variations on "you can't be just average and a distraction" (and it took me huge effort to not scare-quote "distraction") said as if it's no big are just so depressing. We can't expect some moral integrity from business in general? We can't ask it in particular from organizations like the NFL which make such a big show of their charity and patriotism?
posted by phearlez at 12:00 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Do not read the comments.

I shoulda listened to you.

Now I gotta go get some bleach, some scotch, and some pictures of puppies and flowers to get the stank of those commenters off of me.
posted by lord_wolf at 12:14 PM on January 3


Now I gotta go get some bleach, some scotch

please do not confuse these two things
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:18 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Vikings launch investigation into Kluwe allegations

Team officials announced Friday afternoon that former Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court Eric Magnuson and former U.S. Department of Justice Trial Attorney Chris Madel,two high-profile partners of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, L.L.P., will complete an independent review of claims made by Kluwe against Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer, head coach Leslie Frazier and General manager Rick Spielman.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:58 PM on January 3


That's seriously kind of amazing. It might be a whitewash endeavor or it might not, but either way - did any of you who are over 40 think we'd see a time when saying shitty things about gay folks would prompt this sort of organizational response?
posted by phearlez at 1:17 PM on January 3 [9 favorites]


We can't expect some moral integrity from business in general?

There are many people who consider the homophobes to be the ones with moral integrity.
A business is as moral as the person who controls it.
posted by rocket88 at 1:19 PM on January 3


Alan Page would have been more appropriate.
posted by Think_Long at 1:24 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


phearlez: That's seriously kind of amazing. It might be a whitewash endeavor or it might not, but either way - did any of you who are over 40 think we'd see a time when saying shitty things about gay folks would prompt this sort of organizational response?

As noted in a different Dave Zirin article than the one that nadawi linked upthread, this is a great threshold moment for major sports. Martina Navratilova was hopeful in 1981, but is stoked for what is happening now:
Recently in Miami I ran into NFL receiver Donté Stallworth at a gas station. I was filling up my moped. He came over, introduced himself and then told me he had just joined a group called Athlete Ally. Growing in membership by the day, Athlete Ally consists of straight athletes supporting gay athletes at every level, combating homophobia in sports.

This was just another indication that we're living in a time of transformation. I mean, a gorgeous, straight football player stopped me to talk about his very public support for LGBT athletes? How cool is that?
That article was written about Jason Collins coming out and being the the first active player in major league American sports to openly declare he is gay.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:41 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


That article was written about Jason Collins coming out and being the the first active player in major league American sports to openly declare he is gay.

It's maybe worth noting that Collins is without a contract this season. (Same for David Testo, who was probably the previous most prominent out male athlete in North America. IIRC he was without a team when he came out, but would have been a reasonable signing for an(other) NASL team.)
posted by hoyland at 2:43 PM on January 3


One could probably convince me that Kerry Rhodes and even possibly Jason Collins are without teams because of their outings (one speculative, one announced). But I am hoping that the next athlete who comes out does so while he is under contract so that we can learn something about the experience of playing while out.

Seeing Robbie Rogers play in MLS has been interesting — I am heartened at how well things seem to have gone for him, and I hope it gives others the courage to come out during their playing careers.

I swear in 20 years all sports fans will look back and think it was hilarious that people were worried about stuff like "but how can you be gay and SHOWER WITH OTHER DUDES?" But in order for that to happen, someone will have to be the Jackie Robinson; someone will have to demonstrate that it's possible to be gay and a football/basketball/hockey player at the same time. And once that happens, I think the Kerry Rhodeses of the world will find themselves with contracts.
posted by savetheclocktower at 4:12 PM on January 3


Collins without a job is probably on merit. Rhodes can still play. He had 4 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and a quarterback sack last season. In my city the team had one rookie and one clown playing safety along with a set of players who are obviously not as good as Rhodes. They did have one good safety but he went out for the season in week 6 without either an interception or a forced fumble in 6 games. In the radio interview Kluwe made the claim that Rhodes has been blackballed.
posted by bukvich at 4:24 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Man, the Eagles should be backing three or four dump trucks full of money to Rhodes' house. He's better than both of their starting safeties put together.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:45 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


High five to lord_aych for his battle against the straw men. (No sarcasm.)
posted by klangklangston at 6:04 PM on January 3


yeah, rhodes not playing is hard to argue being anything other than exactly what it looks like. i do wonder if he had gotten in front of it and said, "i'm gay, and what?" if his situation might be different. i think teams are worried about another manti te'o situation, where you can't put a pretty pr bow on whatever is going on and the tmz and deadspin like outfits are hungry to out someone. i think it's probably likely though that even if he had come out that he'd be in the same place as far as employment is concerned.
posted by nadawi at 6:13 PM on January 3


hoyland: It's maybe worth noting that Collins is without a contract this season.

Unfortunately, this looks common for vocal allies, too.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:06 AM on January 4


Ice burn from Joe.My.God: Firing Phil Robertson for damaging the brand of his employer? That's an outraaage and a violation of Holy Word of the Baby Jesus. Firing Chris Kluwe for speaking his mind? Why that's just how things work in corporate America! Praise! Glory!
posted by klangklangston at 1:00 PM on January 4 [7 favorites]


Drew Magary at Deadspin ranting on this and the issues of distractions in football:

"Distractions" Are Bullshit

It makes great serious points but also has lines like this:

(It's particularly funny when journalists talk about distractions. They're the instruments of distraction, after all. It's like a fart asking, "How will you deal with the smell?")
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:46 PM on January 6 [11 favorites]


Chris Kluwe on a Slate podcast.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:02 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


Kluwe will be on Q tomorrow, according to guest host Terry O'Reilly. I don't see him listed on tomorrow's schedule, but this may change.
posted by maudlin at 7:53 AM on January 7


MCMikeNamara and MoonOrb, both good points. I wonder who wrote the headlines, Kluwe or the Deadspin editors.

Just heard Kluwe on "Tell Me More". Martin asked him who authored the headline, noting that journalists rarely write their own headlines. He said, "I actually was the one who came up with that".
posted by mr_roboto at 9:33 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


The NFL's real problem with Chris Kluwe is labor rights.
posted by DynamiteToast at 10:27 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


Kluwe to meet with investigators next week.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:11 PM on January 9


"Distractions" are bullshit.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:16 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Kluwe interview.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:22 PM on January 9


"Chris Kluwe Joins Olbermann", 09 January 2014
posted by ob1quixote at 4:41 PM on January 13


« Older 'I submit that the drug trade—and specifically coc...  |  They told me this was the Tran... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments