Former Vikings Punter Chris Kluwe Says He Lost Job Because of Gay Marriage Support
“Throughout the months of September, October, and November, Minnesota Vikings special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer would use homophobic language in my presence… He would ask me if I had written any letters defending ‘the gays’ recently and denounce as disgusting the idea that two men would kiss, and he would constantly belittle or demean any idea of acceptance or tolerance…. Mike Priefer also said on multiple occasions that I would wind up burning in hell with the gays, and that the only truth was Jesus Christ and the Bible. He said all this in a semi-joking tone, and I responded in kind.
As [my teammates and I] 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.’ The room grew intensely quiet, and none of the players said a word for the rest of the meeting.”
Priefer was, until today at least, considered the Vikings' no. 1 in-house candidate to replace the just-fired Frazier. Kluwe writes that he hopes that Priefer never finds another coaching job in the NFL, or at all for that matter.
But while Kluwe has strong words for Priefer and Frazier, the real crux of his essay comes when he attempts to make the case that he didn't play poorly enough to lose his job. Kluwe writes that “his net- and gross-punting marks were nearly in line with my career averages, which remain the best in Vikings history,” but the Vikings still chose to take a punter in the 2013 draft. Kluwe writes:
I had not been approached about reducing my contract for cap-space purposes, nor was my punting average poor enough to justify spending a fifth-round pick on a punter for competition. (My gross average in 2012 was almost exactly my career average, and I had a career-best net average. Statistically speaking, I am also the best punter in Vikings history, despite seven years of coaches asking me to deliberately sacrifice my own numbers to help the team, a request with which I always complied.)
And, he says, his outspokeness now ensures he'll never play in the NFL again. “It's clear to me that no matter how much I want to prove I can play, I will no longer punt in the NFL, especially now that I’ve written this account. Whether it’s my age, my minimum veteran salary, my habit of speaking my mind, or (most likely) a combination of all three, my time as a football player is done.”
This is debatable. Or, at least, more debatable than saying Priefer sounds like a real piece of work. In 2013, Kluwe was a nine-year vet with a surgerically repaired knee who was guaranteed $1.4 million in salary and bonuses. The Vikings' new punter, Jeff Locke, makes the rookie minimum, around $400,000 the last time I checked. And his numbers this season were comparable with Kluwe's 2012. Kluwe could have lost his job because he was old, and Locke was just a better value.
Anyway, Kluwe's essay is worth a read in full. Draw your own conclusions.