Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe has been very active in supporting marriage equality over the past year or two. He has written multiple articles, given speeches, donated money, and been consistently outspoken. This is unusual for the NFL. Aside from many of the players, coaches, and other personnel coming from conservative backgrounds, the 4 major sports leagues in the US (go to hell, soccer) aren’t known for embracing controversy, especially on the team level. Of course there are always scandals, from spying on other teams to steroids to affairs to whatever else, but no one except the media enjoys any of this. Teams seek to minimize these dramas since they simply serve as distractions. That isn’t to say Kluwe’s support for equality and basic human decency is unjustified – it’s 100% justified, actually – but it was bound to ruffle some feathers. Kluwe believes those displaced feathers are why he no longer has a job:
It’s my belief, based on everything that happened over the course of 2012, that I was fired by [Coach] Mike Priefer, a bigot who didn’t agree with the cause I was working for, and two cowards, Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman, both of whom knew I was a good punter and would remain a good punter for the foreseeable future, as my numbers over my eight-year career had shown, but who lacked the fortitude to disagree with Mike Priefer on a touchy subject matter. (Frazier was fired on Monday, at the conclusion of a 5-10-1 season.) One of the main coaching points I’ve heard throughout my entire life is, “How you respond to difficult situations defines your character,” and I think it’s a good saying. I also think it applies to more than just the players.
I’m inclined to believe Kluwe, not because I’m sympathetic to his claim, but because all the details he provides in his article – go read it – add up to him being fired for his views: his coach was consistently hostile towards him, the team didn’t ask him about his progress recovering from surgery, they didn’t attempt to renegotiate his contract, and his 2012 numbers were comparable to his admirable career averages. That forces me to conclude that this wasn’t about sports at all. A few bad apples sought to get rid of the noisy guy, but keep in mind: that noise was off-field. While these things can be a distraction, that wasn’t particularly the case here. The team’s front office got a few media phone calls, but that was about it. Compare that with the media-storm surrounding Tim Tebow. No one complained about him being a distraction. The difference? His noise was mainstream and approved.
I write about this because I want to be sure people see this for what it is: two cowards and a bigot acting against a guy with whom (at least) the bigot disagreed. I popped over to PZ Myers’ site and found this article; whereas Myers has never been a fan of sports or understood any dynamic about sports culture, one should expect his view to not only be skewed, but to also be invalid. This same is true of any non-sports fan who writes about this. Don’t listen to them. Even if they completely agree with whatever ESPN is saying about the issue or even if they agree with what I’ve been saying, ignore them. If they are right, it isn’t because they know what the hell they’re talking about. If they’re right it’s out of sheer luck. Stick to the sports outlets and fans for your sports news and discussions.