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Today, I caught a Minnesota Vikings' topic on Espn's Pardon the Interruption, concerning Chris Kluwe and the Minnesota Vikings. The question opposed was along the lines of "Was Chris Kluwe cut because of his off the field Activities?" During the discussion, Michael Wilbon accused the Vikings of "being fishy" in the way they cut Kluwe, and that it was easy for the Vikings to hide the true reason Kluwe was cut because Kluwe was a bad punter last year, stat wise, and he would cost the Vikings 1 million + dollars this upcoming year. He then went on to say that every NFL team do not want any distractions on their teams and Chris Kluwe's activities off the field was a distraction for the Vikings. Another thing pointed out was that Chris Kluwe was a gay-rights activist.
Ok, now, I see a couple of things wrong with Wilbon's perspective.
1. It's fairly obvious this guy doesn't know anything about the way the New Vikings regime runs their business. If he did, he would have noted that another high priced, declining special teamist was replaced the exact same way by the Vikings last year(Ryan Longwell). Not only did the Vikings go young and cheap, they upgraded the kicker position dramatically last year. Fast forward into this year, the Vikings are running business the same way. Chris Kluwe wasn't worth his contract, wasn't getting younger, so he was replaced. His off the field activities had little to no significance in the Vikings decision to release him.
2. How exactly can Wilbon ignore the very reason that Kluwe was cut, which Willbon clearly stated out himself. The fact is, Kluwe just wasn't that good last year. Wilbon brought up this point and then completely threw it out the window for no reason other than to make an ambiguous point.. So a playoff team sees a guy who is about to earn a fat contract for a punter, but doesn't believe the punter is worth that contract, absolutely must want to release the guy for every other reason then his on-field production, right? Sure, Wilbon, Sure.
3. Outside of the preference that the Vikings Special team coach would have liked it if Kluwe toned it down some with his activities, no other person in the entire organization has come out publicly to state that Kluwe's actions were distracting the team. Not only that, but Kluwe has been voicing his opinion for years, so why didn't the Vikings release Kluwe way before now if he was a distraction.? The perfect time to release a distraction was after a franchise low 3-13 season, but nope, Chris Kluwe was still on the team throughout this entire year.
4. Using the small sample size of players that voice their opinions on gay rights, isn't enough evidence to tip the scales enough one way or another to be a reliable reason for a person's release .If only 10 players share their opinion on gay rights, with 5 being for gay rights, and 5 opposing it, the chance that 5 productive players that's for gay rights will make the team, is still the exact same as those 5 productive players who are opposed of gay rights. What it will always come down to, is if a player is producing enough to keep their contracts. And in this case, Chris Kluwe simply wasn't. I find it hard to believe that if Antonie Winfield voiced an opposing opinion on gay rights, that he would still be a Viking for his old contract. Point being, it doesn't matter that Chris Kluwe was for gay rights or not, he simply didn't get the job done at a million dollar level that he was due.
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