Chris Kluwe: "I wouldn't have changed anything"
On Monday, the Minnesota Vikings officially confirmed they were releasing Chris Kluwe, the team's veteran punter and one of the NFL's most outspoken advocates for gay rights.
Photo: Tony Nelson for City Pages. Kluwe: "I've got plenty of leg left in me."
The announcement came as no surprise to most; the writing has been on the wall since the Vikings picked up recent UCLA grad Jeff Locke as a fifth-round draft pick. But the dismissal has spurred mixed reaction among football fans. Some say it's a smart move for the Vikings, and the 31-year-old punter has passed his prime. Others speculate that Kluwe's extra-curricular activities factored into the Vikings' decision to drop him.
We caught up with Kluwe Tuesday morning to talk about this week's news and his plans for the future.
Blotter: Did the news come as any surprise to you?
Chris Kluwe: No, I figured that's what was going to happen. It's pretty much the same thing that happened to Ryan [Longwell] last year. And I had talked with Rick that -- "Hey, if this is the direction the team is gonna go, then I'd prefer if you let me go sooner rather than later, because that way at least I can find a job somewhere else."
Did they give you an explanation?
Nope, just said, "Thanks for your service. You've been a great player for us and a great contribution to the team and the community, and best of luck on your next endeavor."
A lot of people are drawing their own conclusions, wondering if your off-field activities had something to do with the decision. Do you think that played into it?
I don't know. I'm not in those meetings, so I don't know what's said in there. The only thing I can do is just go out and punt to the best of my ability and hope I catch on with another team.
With Jason Collins just coming out, and giving you a shout-out for that, does the timing send a message to other people who want to speak out like you?
I think a lot of it's going to depend on if Jason and I can find jobs. You know, if we can compete for a spot on the team based on our athletic ability.
What's been the reaction? Have you talked to your teammates yet?
Yeah, I got to say goodbye to our guys. They all wished me well. I was sad to be leaving, they were sad to see me go. But I've unfortunately just gotta move on now.
What about your fans? What's that general reaction been like?
Pretty overwhelmingly supportive. I've gotten a lot of really nice messages from people saying thanks for what you've done, thanks for playing for Minnesota. Gotten a few angry messages, too, but you're going to get those, so I don't let it bug me.
You've been with the Vikings for a long time. Is there a play or moment or game that stands out as something you're particularly proud of?
Yeah, the NFC championship game where Reggie Bush didn't fair catch. I think it was my first punt, and our gunner Eric Frampton ran down and just lit him up and he fumbled the ball on the six-yard line. [Laughs] I was pretty happy about that.
Tell me a little about your plan going forward. You're trying to get on another team?
I have to wait to see if I clear waivers, see if another team claims me or not. And if they don't, my agent will be in contact with other teams that need punters, you know, kind of gauging the level of interest and seeing what their thoughts are. And, yeah, hopefully just get a chance to try out for someone going forward.
How many more seasons are you hoping to play?
At least four or five. I feel like I've got plenty of leg left in me. At 31, I'm pretty much right in my prime as a punter, so I feel like I can still contribute out there at a high level.
Are you concerned that the advocacy you've been doing will play negatively into another team's decision to pick you up?
I hope not. I hope I would just be judged on my athletic ability and what I can bring to the field. So we'll see what happens moving forward.
Would you do anything differently, looking back?
No, I wouldn't have changed anything. I feel like, hopefully, I was able to make a difference for some people in the world. And I think it's an important issue to speak out on, and there's plenty of other issues to speak out on as well. Whenever people aren't treating people with respect, with empathy, I am going to say something. That's a society that I don't want to live in, because historically that's a society that fails every single time.
Is the band still in play if you move to another state?
I don't know. That's something we're going to have to discuss as a band. We're doing a quick ad hoc show tonight. Our singer and drummer already had a show planned with their side project, Crooked Saws. And last night they were like, "Hey, we should do a couple songs from Tripping Icarus also." So we're going to be at Cause, I think we're on at 9:45 or 10. Just play like a quick four-song set and kinda get a chance to play together one more time, because I don't know where I'm gonna be.
I've seen a lot of people on Twitter suggesting you go into politics. Ever thought about doing that?
I'm not a huge fan of our political system right now. It's pretty broken at the moment. So, no, I don't really see politics in my future. You know, I've had interest from people, but I don't really see that as something I'm going to pursue.
Any advice for Jeff Locke?
Yeah, you know, just play hard. Its a great opportunity for him. I hope he breaks every one of my records. I hope he has fun.