Chris Kluwe’s Days in Purple May Be Numbered

After Vikings punter Chris Kluwe covered a patch on his jersey commemorating the Pro Football Hall Fame’s 50th anniversary with a piece of tape reading “Vote Ray Guy” on December 9, we got the first hint that the Vikings are fed up with Kluwe’s attention grabbing antics.

When the press gently prodded special teams coordinator Mike Priefer on the issue, he got rigid. “Those distractions are getting old for me, to be honest with you,” Priefer blurted last week. “Does Ray Guy deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? Absolutely. But there are others ways to go about doing it in my opinion.” He then added that there is no point in talking to the punter about it because “he won’t listen.”

Playing a position that is usually draws little interest, Kluwe has become a lighting rod. He made several headlines this fall advocating gay marriage, including sending a passionate, albeit vulgar and profane defense of the issue to Maryland state legislator Emmett C. Burns Jr. who criticized Ravens player Brendon Ayanbedejo for speaking out in favor of same sex unions.

Priefer’s comments indicate the politically active punter may have fallen out of favor at Winter Park. While no team, or company for that matter, likes its employees taking public, controversial stands, it is perfectly legal and sometimes very admirable. But, if you’re an athlete, you better be performing on the field. That’s where it gets sticky for Kluwe.

The 8-year veteran is 22nd in the NFL in gross average per kick (44.7), 17th in net average (39.7) and 27th with 17 punts inside the 20. In other words, he’s pretty replaceable, maybe even with a younger, cheaper player.

While I personally agree with most of Kluwe’s stances on the issues, he can be abrasive and arrogant. In the NFL, where conformity is virtue, an opinionated punter with a mediocre stat line is an endangered specie.

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