Chris Kluwe, NFL punter and outspoken gay rights activist, spoke out today against his former team, the Minnesota Vikings. He blames his stance on marriage equality as the reason he was cut from the team. Kluwe published an article on Deadspin today stating he was “fired by two cowards and a bigot.”
The two cowards Kluwe is referring to is former head coach Leslie Frasier and general manager Rick Spielman. Kluwe recounts the day Frasier called him into his office telling the punter that to “stop speaking out on this stuff.” Kluwe chose to not keep quiet on the subject and team owner, Zygi Wilf, had his back.
In the article, Kluwe goes on about the “bigot,” special teams coordinator Mike Priefer. Out of the blue, Kluwe remembers Priefer using homophobic slurs after the punter went public about his opinion, something that the coach did not do prior to Kluwe’s public stance. After a bad game, Priefer brought in a number of punters to replace Kluwe. He believes that the coach’s decision was based on football, not because of his stance on gay marriage. In a team meeting, Kluwe remembers Priefer stating in a hateful tone “We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows."
Interactions with his teammates during his time with the Vikings remained civil, even though some players didn’t agree with him. Regardless of his teammates’ opinion, many of them approached Kluwe after Priefe’s rant saying that what the coach said was “messed up.”
In a much more passive aggressive manner, Kluwe got an anonymous text in the 2013 offseason that simply read “Please fly under radar please.” He later found out that the text came from general manager Rick Spielman, “coward” number two. After drafting a punter in the fifth round of the April draft, Spielman told Kluwe that the transaction was “solely about competition and had nothing to do with (his) views,” which Kluwe did not believe to be truthful.
After eight years as the punter for the Minnesota Vikings, the team released Kluwe on May 6. Although he is statistically the best punter in Vikings history, Kluwe isn’t certain that his political views lost him his job, but is confident that it had something to do with it. Kluwe is not currently on an NFL roster and maintains that will remain the case, especially after writing this article.