Vikings asst coach tiring of Kluwe’s activism
Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe has made a name for himself
as much for his willingness to take outspoken stands on issues that
are important to him as he has for pinning opponents inside the
He’s been celebrated as a champion for gay rights, chastised for
his willingness to challenge the NFL establishment and fined for
altering his jersey to campaign for the Hall of Fame to enshrine
its first punter.
It all appears to be wearing thin with his position coach. When
asked about the $5,250 fine that Kluwe incurred for putting ”Vote
Ray Guy” over a patch on his jersey commemorating the 50th
anniversary of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Vikings special teams
coordinator delivered a sharp rebuke.
”I don’t even want to talk about that,” Mike Priefer said
Thursday. ”Those distractions are getting old for me, to be quite
honest with you. Do I think Ray Guy deserves to be in the Hall of
Fame? Absolutely. But there’s other ways of going about doing it,
in my opinion.”
The Vikings have generally stood behind their renaissance man,
rarely getting in the way when he has tried to use his platform to
raise awareness to issues away from the field. Kluwe became an
important and high-profile advocate for gay marriage during the
election. He’s also addressed what he sees as a problem the NFL has
with drunken driving in the wake of Dallas Cowboys player Jerry
Brown’s death and criticized voters for not putting a punter into
With the Vikings (7-6) trying to chase a playoff spot in the
final three games of the season, Priefer thinks it’s time for Kluwe
to cool it with the activism and concentrate on his job.
”To me, it’s getting old,” Priefer said. ”He’s got to focus
on punting and holding.”
The timing of Priefer’s comments seem a little odd, given that
Kluwe is coming off a stellar performance in a victory over the
Chicago Bears. Facing dangerous returner Devin Hester, he averaged
45.7 yards on seven punts and twice pinned the Bears inside the
Kluwe has always taken pride in not being defined by being a
football player. He plays in a band, is a voracious reader and
throws himself into civil rights discussions. So it’s no surprise
the pointed words from his coach were met with a shrug.
”All I can do is go out and punt to the best of my ability each
game, and that’s how I’ve always approached things,” Kluwe wrote
in an email to The Associated Press. ”If the team ever wants to
replace me, they will; I’m under no delusions as to how this
business operates. We all get cut eventually.”
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he has had conversations with
Kluwe about buckling down as the games get more important.
”We’ve had some conversations, Chris and I,” Frazier said.
”Right now he knows the focus has to be on the St. Louis Rams.
He’s assured me that’s where his focus is and we just have to keep
At least one person is thankful that Kluwe has been willing to
Tracy Call, a Minneapolis advertising executive, helped recruit
Kluwe into activism against a constitutional amendment to ban gay
marriage that Minnesota voters defeated last month. She formed a
political group – Minnesotans for Equality – that paid to air a
radio commercial where Kluwe urged defeat of the amendment.
”Chris always made it very clear there were times when we could
not contact him, including Saturdays and game days,” Call said.
”When he was on the field, his mind was on the field. He’s very
focused and I think it’s ridiculous to think otherwise just because
he expresses opinions.”
Call gave Kluwe huge credit for helping defeat the
”His message really hit home for a lot of people, a lot of
people in the middle who didn’t ever tune in on this issue
before,” Call said. ”Frankly, I think we should have a parade for
Associated Press Writer Pat Condon, in St. Paul, contributed to
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