Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE
Obligatory intro statement to this kind of story. Yes, Chris Kluwe is a major advocate for legalizing same-sex marriage. Yes, this is a contentious debate with strong feelings and emotions on both sides. Yes, it is very likely the vast majority of you here have said strong feelings and emotions regarding whatever side you are on. But we here at the Daily Norsemen pride ourselves on keeping things relatively clean in terms of our focus: football. I don't really care what your side of the same-sex marriage debate is, and I don't care what your feelings/ emotions on that entail. What I do care about is that we stick to discussing football here. If you post something regarding the overall same-sex marriage issue, I will delete the post as soon as I see it. And, since you have been forewarned here, I will also issue a warning (I have that power but am extremely loath to use it). Push the issue by baiting, trolling, or re-posting after I delete your comment, and I will temporarily block you and forward you to the leaders of this blog (Chris, Eric and Ted) for further action. OK- seriously, you've all been warned.
Chris Kluwe is long renowned around these parts, and amongst the general Vikings fanbase (and dare I say even around the NFL in general) as being the most outspoken punter of all time. His on-field exploits have always been up-and-down, with some absolutely beautiful, perfect punts mixed in with absolute shanks. But one thing he's always been consistent at is entertainment, and the open willingness to express his opinion without reservation. Honestly, if you don't follow @ChrisWarcraft on twitter, you are absolutely missing out.
Earlier this season his tendency to expend considerable energy off the field towards his beliefs in the legalization of same-sex marriage (re-look at the intro if you have to, I'm dead serious here) gave rise to the belief that "he should focus more on punting". This was because at the time that he was focusing on that issue, many of his punting performances were sub-par. The Vikings at one point even brought in some FA punters to work out, but it was generally accepted as just a ‘push' to spark Kluwe, not an outright attempt to replace him.
And while his performance has certainly increased since that brief slump, he has recently turned his attention to a new issue: the fact that former Raiders punter Ray Guy is not a member of the Hall of Fame. (As an aside, that's totally football so discuss your hearts' content on that below.) He has written about it and spoken out on the issue, and last Sunday against the Bears Kluwe made the decision to cover his HoF patch (as all players were wearing them) with athletic tape, writing "Vote Ray Guy" over it. It was a statement that technically violated NFL rules, and Kluwe was accepting that a fine was coming. And when it did, he accepted it as inevitable and spoke of no regrets, including on tweet ending with "don't cry for me Argentina".
Now normally we would ignore most of this and move along. However, Kluwe's coach- Special Teams guru Mike Priefer- is apparently not of the same mindset. And that's quite important.
Priefer, who should be receiving enormous credit around these parts for effectively turning around our ST unit as well as coaching the "completely inaccurate" Blair Walsh into a Mr. Automatic, really has never said much about Kluwe or his off-the-field activities. But apparently Kluwe's decision to adjust his uniform to make a statement about Ray Guy hit a nerve.
"Those distractions are getting old for me, to be honest with you. Does Ray Guy deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? Absolutely. But there are other ways to go about doing it, in my opinion. To me, it's getting old. He's got to focus on punting and holding."
It gets worse. When asked whether he had spoken to Kluwe about it, he answered:
"No. He won't listen."
Kluwe has previously had a rap about being ‘uncoachable'. Considering he generally performed well enough, and that when he didn't he responded to the Vikings bringing in potential replacements (this year was not the first time that had happened) positively, that hadn't seemed to be a giant problem until now. But Priefer's words sound ominous. It's interesting that for all the non-football related ‘side activities' Kluwe has had recently, it was apparently Kluwe's outspoken and visual support for the first HoF punter to be elected in that finally snapped Priefer‘s patience. To me, this says that perhaps he's been getting shorter and shorter on that with Kluwe; his final statement that he "won't listen" really seals that for me.
Kluwe strikes me as a generally likeable guy, someone you'd enjoy having a beer with (or playing video games with). He seems relatively popular amongst his teammates, particularly rookie Walsh. And I have read him write about how agonizing a football loss, or a bad performance on his part, is to him. But all that said, Kluwe isn't irreplaceable. His punting is good- but not so awesome that you'll put up with anything out of him to keep him around. If he's finally worn Priefer out, this may spell the end of the road for Kluwe in Minnesota.
Mind you, I don't anticipate anything imminent. I would argue that unless Kluwe truly does something stupid (or just starts shanking them nonstop), he's going to finish out the season. But whether or not Priefer feels like putting up with him afterwards is very questionable. Kluwe might take the opportunity to go and speak with his coach himself (since Priefer seems disinclined to do so) and iron things out; personally, I've noticed a lack of comment from Kluwe over his twitter account, which is unusual for him. Earlier in the season he bristled at suggestions that he "think more about punting", but now that those words are coming from his coach's mouth, that could be different (or not, this is Chris Kluwe).
So we'll see. But I will say, for the first time ever, I am starting to feel like Kluwe's time as a Viking could be nearing an end. And that makes part of me very, very sad. What say you, fellow Norsemen/ women? Do you think Priefer's comments today indicate a finished patience with- and tenure for- Chris Kluwe in Minnesota? (I'll remind you one last time- focus on football.)