EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — With the NFL celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe believed he had the perfect opportunity to protest Ray Guy’s exclusion from Canton.
The always outspoken Kluwe wasn’t going to pass on the chance, even if he knew it was going to cost him.
During Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears, with the NFL wearing patches to celebrate the Hall’s anniversary, Kluwe wore a self-made sticker over the NFL’s patch saying, “Vote for Ray Guy.” He said Wednesday he was fined $5,250 for the kind gesture toward Guy, the punter who is regarded as the best in league history, but who still is not in the Hall.
Kluwe is more than OK with handing over the money to the league.
“It got people talking about it,” Kluwe said. “I heard the broadcast team talked about it for a bit. And hopefully, people will realize, ‘Hey, punters aren’t in the Hall of Fame, maybe we should do something about that.'”
Kluwe’s sticker was against league uniform policies, so he knew punishment was on the way.
“Oh yeah, it’s in our CBA,” Kluwe said. “Yeah, I actually read my CBA each year.”
Kluwe took his first pro-Ray Guy stance in November after reading a Yahoo! Sports report about Guy, who said he was resigned to his being held out of the Hall of Fame despite being a seven-time finalist in the voting. Drafted out of Southern Mississippi by the Oakland Raiders in 1973 — the only pure punter ever picked in the first round — Guy averaged 42.4 yards per punt over his 14-year NFL career.
Kluwe wrote an open letter to the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee, posted on Deadspin.com, admonishing Guy’s exclusion and criticizing voters for never electing a punter.
“How dare you tell a man who devoted his life to perfecting his craft that he’s not worthy of admission among the game’s greatest,” Kluwe wrote on Deadspin.com. “How dare you have the heartless effrontery to pronounce that football is a team sport, but that some positions are more equal than others? How dare you be so selfish, short-sighted, and just plain ***hole-ish to declare that Ray Guy won’t be recognized for his skills because you’re too ***damned lazy to learn the subtleties of kicking?
“That’s right, voting committee, you’re lazy. You’re indolent, slothful, petulant, ignorant, and flat-out stupid. You perpetuate the same small-minded ‘Oh, he’s just a kicker’ stereotype every single time you refuse to acknowledge that Ray Guy belongs in the Hall of Fame, because YOU’RE UNWILLING TO LEARN.”
Guy was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time All-Pro and was named the punter on the NFL’s 75th anniversary team in 1994. Known for his booming punts with incredible hang time, Guy also was the first pure punter nominated for the Hall of Fame.
But Guy, who was forced to sell his three Super Bowl rings in August as part of a bankruptcy filing, has been continually passed over in the selection process and has now been out of the game for more than 25 years. That means he’s outside the time frame for regular voting. The senior selection committee now stands as his last chance at Canton.
So, Kluwe was proud to stand up for his fellow punter in Sunday’s game.
“Why am I going to support a Hall of Fame that doesn’t have a punter in it?” Kluwe asked after Sunday’s game, adding that it’s “a sham of a system if you’re not going to acknowledge every facet of the game.”
Kluwe said he hasn’t talked to Guy but is hoping to get the chance.
“Hopefully, I will get to talk to him when he’s getting inducted into the Hall of Fame,” Kluwe said Wednesday.