The week of August 24, 2014

Me IRL: Chris Kluwe

By Ramon Ramirez

Chris Kluwe is an NFL punter who’s known for pretty much everything but being an NFL punter.

First, the World of Warcraft enthusiast was an ardent yell leader for gay rights. Then, he derided his former employer, the Minnesota Vikings, for firing him over non-football reasons in May 2013, alleging alleged sexual orientation discrimination, religious discrimination, and defamation. On Aug. 15, Kluwe and the Vikings settled out of court.

“The NFL has become so corporatized that coaches and managers are worried,” Kluwe told The Kernel about being cut from the Vikings. “Coaches will always go for someone that keeps their mouth shut.”

Kluwe is keeping in shape, however, ready for another shot in the NFL and living in his hometown of Huntington, Calif., with his wife and two daughters. “Not holding my breath waiting for that call,” he said.

While it may be easy for the NFL shield to box him out of the league, eventually it’ll have to realize that it harbors lots of players that appreciate Kluwe’s activism.

“I had quite a few guys come up to me,” Kluwe says about the fallout from his personal writing. He says they’d offer private endorsements. “It wasn’t just the guys on the Vikings,” he clarified. “I think the fans would be surprised if they knew just how many players there are in the NFL that actually care about these issues.”

“Coaches will always go for someone that keeps their mouth shut.”

Turns out Kluwe has lots of candid thoughts about the NFL and the Internet.

First screen name: loate

Earliest memory of the Internet: Probably my parents. They got one of those AOL dial-up CDs.

“Jif” of “gif”:GIF. JIF is peanut butter, and GIF is a series of still images that create a graphic.

If the Internet didn’t exist: The world would collapse due to boredom.

Essential app: My clock.

Must-follow on Twitter: @YourAnonNews

Favorite social network: Twitter. It’s not nearly as intrusive as Facebook.

The Web would be better if: Everyone had a series of electrobites hooked up to their genitalia and when they made comments on a website you could vote “Yes” or “No.”

The Internet in five years: 2,783 percent more cat GIFs.

Are you a fantasy football guy at all?

I’ve never really watched sports I just like playing them. I’ll tune into football games occasionally because my wife likes watching them. … I understand why people would [play fantasy]. I’d rather play RPG fantasy.

Given headlines and research, would you let your children play football?

We have two daughters. I think it’s something where if they wanted to play, I would say wait until you’re in high school at the earliest. You don’t really learn anything because you’re body is still growing [prior to high school]. But you can learn some valuable life lessons from football and from team sports.

As a professional punter you were in close proximity with an inordinate amount of elite talent. Who’s the best football player you’ve ever seen live?

I think it’s probably a tie between Devin Hester and Percy Harvin. I punted to [Hester] a lot, and you knew there was always a risk he would allude, like, five guys and run it back for a touchdown. Percy is the hardest-playing football player I’ve ever seen—with just no regard for his body.

What do you miss most about the NFL?

Just the guys in the locker room. You can’t really replace that.

Do you ultimately think Michael Sam gets a fair shake in the league?

I think Michael Sam will get a legitimate shot to compete because there’s a lot of people watching. I think he’ll make the Rams roster because he’s a good football player, and he has a skill that he can offer that team.

It’s almost time for a new football season. Who wins it all this year?

I’d say the Seahawks have a pretty good chance of repeating.


Illustration by J. Longo