Apparently NFL teams now have to consult politicians before making any roster moves. We guess there are no other pressing issues facing the state of Minnesota if the governor has time to stick his nose into the business of the local NFL franchise.
Chris Kluwe saw his release coming for more than a week. The veteran punter made that clear Monday when discussing the Vikings’ decision to cut him after eight seasons. Once the team used a fifth-round draft choice on UCLA’s Jeff Locke, Kluwe knew his time here was up.The Vikings’ organization, of course, had to know the move would trigger some fallout given Kluwe’s heightened profile and consistent push to speak out on issues he feels strongly about. In the past year, Kluwe had become particularly engaged as an advocate in the push for gay rights and marriage equality. And so even if the Vikings and General Manager Rick Spielman insist the move to replace Kluwe with Locke was solely football-based, there’s no way for the organization to avoid the skepticism that their decision to divorce from Kluwe had ulterior motives.This morning at the Capitol, Governor Mark Dayton became the latest to question the Vikings on the Kluwe topic.“I don’t feel good about it,” Dayton said. “I mean I’m not in position to evaluate the role and their punting abilities. But it seems to me the general manager said right after the draft that they were going to have competition. Well, then he brings the one guy [Locke] in, he kicks for a weekend and that’s the competition? I mean, I just think sports officials ought to be honest about what the heck is going on. Same way I think public officials should be honest about what’s going on. So that bothers me probably as much if not more than the actual decision.”
Sports officials should be honest, just like politicians.
Dayton was originally addressing – or more exactly evading – questions on the state’s plans for backup funding for the new Vikings’ stadium, designs for which will be unveiled Monday. But then he brought up Kluwe’s release and was asked whether he thought it was related to the punter’s stance in the gay marriage debate.
If Kluwe is worth it some other team will pick him up. If not he can whine about gay marriage and lament his lot in life. Even if he’s not gay, maybe he should just come out and say he is. Then he’ll be a national celebrity fielding calls from the White House.
“I can’t say for sure,” Dayton replied. “But if you’re going to check and see who’s the better kicker under the pressure of an NFL season, seems to me you at least go into the exhibition games and have them both kicking under that kind of pressure. If you’re to have true competition, that’s how I would think you’d resolve it in a straightforward way.
Kluwe ranked 17th in punting in the 2012, but more than half his games were indoors. It would only be logical for some team to give him a shot. The Vikings used a draft kick on a kicker last year and that worked out pretty well.