In the past year, the player has emerged as an unlikely activist for gay rights, having appeared on the cover of OUT magazine and numerous talk shows including "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and "The Colbert Report". Though popular with the media, however, Kluwe's advocacy has not impressed the Vikings coaching staff.
Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune speculated yesterday that the then-pending Vikings cut would be a result of Kluwe's extra-curricular activities:
Regardless of whether they admit it, the Vikings are jettisoning Kluwe partly because they grew tired of his outspokenness. It’s naive to think the move is based solely on his age (31), salary ($1.45 million) or how he performed last season (inconsistently). Kluwe has become the most visible punter in NFL history because of his social activism. The Vikings deny that Kluwe’s public stance on issues factored into their decision — not that they would ever admit it — but they likely prefer someone who embraces the anonymous life of an NFL punter.
Kluwe told Scoggins, however, that “"the sacrifice" of being cut "would be worth it."
“Now, I would hope that I would get the chance to play football again," he said, "because I think I can still play. But if it ends up being something that costs me that position, I think making people aware of an issue that is causing children to commit suicide is more important than kicking a leather ball.”
After Monday's announcement, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman told the Star Tribune that “It has nothing to do with anything Chris Kluwe is off the field," however:
“When we’re making decisions," he said, "we’re purely making them trying to bring in the best competition possible regardless of position. ... This was just another normal personnel move. It had nothing to do with Chris Kluwe’s off-field concerns, I have no issues if Chris Kluwe wants to express his opinion, that’s his right, that’s his freedom of speech. This is just a football decision to bring in a guy to come in to compete.”