Chris Kluwe Just Wrote An Epic Article About Why He Was Really Fired From The Vikings

January 2nd, 2014 // 67 Comments
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Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe quickly became an Internet hero after writing an open letter defending Brendon Ayanbadejo a linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens who was chastised for defending gay rights. Kluwe later became an outspoken advocate for equality and Twitter sensation before suddenly finding himself cut from the Vikings. While the team denied this had anything to do with his activism, he voiced his responses to that question diplomatically. Until today. In an epic column on Deadspin, Chris Kluwe lays out why he was almost definitely fired because of special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer who’s now up for the position of head coach and apparently a colossal dickbag bigot:

He would ask me if I had written any letters defending “the gays” recently and denounce as disgusting the idea that two men would kiss, and he would constantly belittle or demean any idea of acceptance or tolerance. I tried to laugh these off while also responding with the notion that perhaps they were human beings who deserved to be treated as human beings. Mike Priefer also said on multiple occasions that I would wind up burning in hell with the gays, and that the only truth was Jesus Christ and the Bible. He said all this in a semi-joking tone, and I responded in kind, as I felt a yelling match with my coach over human rights would greatly diminish my chances of remaining employed. I felt uncomfortable each time Mike Priefer said these things. After all, he was directly responsible for reviewing my job performance, but I hoped that after the vote concluded in Minnesota his behavior would taper off and eventually stop.

Near the end of November, several teammates and I were walking into a specialist meeting with Coach Priefer. We were laughing over one of the recent articles I had written supporting same-sex marriage rights, and one of my teammates made a joking remark about me leading the Pride parade. As we sat down in our chairs, Mike Priefer, in one of the meanest voices I can ever recall hearing, said: “We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.”

The important thing is now everyone knows that Chris Kluwe was fired for speaking his beliefs, so surely the freedom of speech lovers who supported Phil Robertson will now rise up and defend the Constitution because it should be illegal to fire someone for just saying words, remember? Remember you said that? So let’s take arms, patriots! HYEAH… and none of you are moving. Goddammit.

I Was An NFL Player Until I Was Fired By Two Cowards And A Bigot – Deadspin


  1. Cock Dr

    I know almost nothing of modern professional team sports and I very much would like to support this young man but I do have to ask the question…is he actually a good player? Because if an athlete isn’t performing well it would certainly make good coaching sense to cut them and find someone new.
    The Minnesota Vikings locker room sounds like a very hostile workplace. Unfortunately the stereotype of jocks as a nasty bigoted homophobic bunch seems to be based in some truth.

  2. That last paragraph just made my entire fucking week. Much obliged good sir.

  3. You will note that, like Robertson, Kluwe’s constitutional rights were also untouched. Surely all of the folks who Stood With Phil for speaking his beliefs will be lining up to defend Chris Kluwe, right? RIGHT? Guys?

    Shit, sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt the ‘we don’t understand what freedom of speech means’ circle jerk.

    • schmidtler

      We all got a giant ear full from Fish about how anybody can express their opinions, so long as they’re ok with accepting the consequences. Is Fish implying now that his stance on that point is different if the person paying the consequences is pro gay? How about the MSNBC fucktards that had a big laugh mocking the Romney’s family picture because they included their adopted black grandbaby? Will those dolts be called on to face any consequences for that? I personally don’t give a shit what anyone’s opinions are, or what the gays do, it’s the ridiculous hypocrisy of screeching and calling anyone who disagrees with your views vile names and then crying boo hoo when the same consequences fall on those you do agree with for expressing a view consistent with your own. That said, the ‘put the gays on an island and nuke it’ thing would, I hope, bounce that dipshit from any job other than following the elephants with a shovel in parades.

  4. Joe

    I don’t believe that letter for a second. Sure, this guy was the best punter in the NFL and when he said he supported a gay player then a huge bigot fired him. Bullshit. Easy lawsuit there. Even that illegal alien who CA just said could become a lawyer could win that case.

    If you think this is as simple and cut and dried as Kluwe would have you believe, you’re a fool.

    • Except he never was anywhere close to being the best punter in the NFL.

      • Oh hey Joe, I see you are not familiar with employment law in this country. Let me give you the world’s most depressing crash course. Let’s pretend you and I work for an NFL team. You are gay, and I am a big supporter of your right to be gay. Sadly, under federal law, neither of us get any protection. Our boss could call us into the office and say “You are both the best employees I have, but I hate the gays and people who like gays, so you are fired.” Neither of us would have any legal recourse. Now, if he said “I hate men” “I hate jews” or even “I hate the gays who don’t act manly enough” then you got a lawsuit.

        Some states protect LGBT status, and some cities within some states (for example, firing an employee for being gay is a no-no within Philadelphia’s city limits. The rest of Pennsatucky is fine with it).

        But you are right, that illegal alien (who passed a bar exam I’m pretty sure you couldn’t figure out how to apply for much less pass) could totally win the case – assuming he represented the NFL.

  5. DMO

    Gotta correct you, Ayanbadejo is not an openly gay linebacker. He openly defended the possibility of playing with an openly gay teammate in the NFL, and was chastised by Emmitt Burns.

    But yes, excellent takedown by Kluwe.

  6. JimBB

    This probably explains why the Minnesota Vikings have once again failed to draft me for the 15th consecutive year in a row.

  7. Fugazi Osborne

    One note, Brendon Ayanbadejo is *not* gay, but expressed the fact that he would support a gay teammate…

    • Yup, I’m an idiot.

      • admitting it is the first step. I’m pretty sure the second step is taking a bath with a plugged in toaster, but then, I’m not a licensed therapist.
        No commentary on the MSNBC folks mocking the Romney family picture because they included their adopted black grandchild, huh? Probably doesn’t mesh with your ‘only conservatives are bigots’ thing.

  8. I’m not surprised at all that the Vikings are being run by morons. I’ve been a Vikings fan for 20 years. Of course Kluwe is the problem with this team. This should be an article about all QB’s and O-linemen for Minnesota being released at once.

    Oh and workplace laws don’t apply to NFL teams because football. No one can opine about the NFL either because they can’t understand the culture; there are no other professions in the world where people pull together towards a common goal in a a physically challenging environment.

  9. Matt

    Kluwe was cut because he was an old, highly paid punter. Sorry, there’s really nothing to see here. I’m sure the guy that said all that is a bigot, or whatever. But that has little, if anything to do with him getting cut. There were cheaper, younger alternatives at the position he played. Happens every day in the NFL

    • Exactly. Wonder why he didn’t rail against the Raiders after they dumped his ass. He’s a fucking punter, sorry. That’s probably one of the most replaceable positions in the league.

    • Dox

      But some asshole on TV who babbles on about duck calls, and pretends to be a hick…. that’s irreplaceable. Can’t let that fall to the wayside.

      • I seriously wonder how fucking stupid you have to be to find that show entertaining.

      • probably right between ‘honey boo boo’ and any of the ‘real housewives’ shows.
        Kluwe pretty much conceded that he was not so hot a punter that him losing his job could be entirely because of his speaking out, but, also pointed out that it likely made the decision easier for his bosses. He seems pretty realistic about the whole thing. Considering his ‘Suck it Trebek’ shirt, I’ll assume he’s some kind of super genius.

  10. hold up

    Ayanbadejo is married. To a woman. So it’s a mistake to call him (openly) gay. He has been an advocate of same-sex marriage since 2009, though:

  11. I cannot wait to hear how Fox News rises to his defense because the Vikings fired him for simply speaking his mind.


  12. Not a lawyer, but he didn’t get fired for BEING gay, so no constitutional issue? Same as Phil the duck fucker, right? This DOES prove, however, prove that his coach is a colossal fucking asshole.

    • Dox


      Duck Dodgers and the Family of backwater hicks, speaks out against gays. Is suspended. Free speech issue.

      Punter for the Vikings supports tolerance for gay men and women. Is openly berated by his coach. Nobody blinks. Is treated in a hostile manner by his coach/supervisor. Nobody blinks. Is finally “let go”.

      Not a free speech issue.

      How is one different from the other?

      • Because Robertson was disciplined by his employers because of the content of his speech, and Kluwe was disciplined by his employers simply because his actions in vocally speaking out on hot button political issues became a nuisance for the team and despite them asking him to tone it down, he refused. Also, Kluwe was (supposedly) fired for being a crappy punter, and at no time did his employers ever concede that his pro gay marriage views played any part in the decision. Real life isn’t always so conveniently boiled down into simplistic terms.

    • Mark, sadly, in most states, there isn’t an issue even if you are fired just for being gay. It is never a constitutional issue, but in some states (and some cities within states – Philadelphia for example) there are statutes barring against discrimination in the workplace based on LGBT status. A bill was introduced recently to pass a federal version of this, but as the law now stands, there are plenty of places your boss could legally fire you for being great at your job, but gay.

  13. Olsen

    Kluwe was probably released for his outspokenness or for his statistics in 2012 for punting. …

    *31st in NFL in punts inside the 20
    *22nd in NFL in avg punt yardage
    *32nd in NFL for long punt
    *17th in NFL in net yardage
    *Always Kicking to Devin Hester

    I guess the Raiders should be listed as bigots and cowards since they cut him in training camp this year and went with Marquette King (Pssss also a Rookie). Face it, you were 24 out of 32 in 2012, you were expensive to keep around, and the team went cheap.

    The thing that doesn’t really jib here, is if these things were happening so regularly, etc……why didn’t you pop a recorder into you pocket and record this shit, OR why didn’t you use your OUTSPOKENESS to blast them while still a Viking? Just comes across bitter.

    • Yes, but there is some tiny essence of faux-political mileage to squeeze out of it this way.

    • I’d say based on his comments, Kluwe was pretty well aware that his employer could replace him easily if he made himself into a big enough pain in the ass, so like anybody else that likes to live indoors and eat food, he wanted to keep his paychecks rolling in as long as possible. Once that wasn’t a factor, he spoke out and shed some light on what his dickhead coaches were like behind closed doors. Just because he wasn’t willing to martyr himself over these issues doesn’t mean he’s making any of it up now. He did tell his bosses ‘no’ when they asked him to cut the shit out, while he was still working for them, so there is that.

  14. Willie Dixon

    The only flaw in logic with the double-standard argument Fish is trying make here is that Phil Robertson was quoted by a magazine for his comments. Kluwe merely posted a blog with no names and zero real-name witnesses. I’m not saying it didn’t happen, or that the coach isn’t a homophobe, but there needs to be better validation for Kluwe’s story.

    We still believe in science around here, right?

    • Kluwe is just making the claim that all fired people make, while A&E came out and stated why they had an issue with what Robertson said. The whole thing is a false comparison.

    • hold up

      You make no sense. Robertson made public comments against homosexuality, while Kluwe made public comments in support of same-sex marriage. The public or private nature of Prier’s comments isn’t relevant to Fish’s analogy, because Prier’s not the one who was fired.

  15. If you actually read his words, he acknowledges the replace-ability of NFL punters. This story is about the cowardice of the vikings organization, not Kluwe getting fired.

  16. Walter Peck

    Chris Kluwe was an old, overpaid, underperforming PUNTER!

    Pointless Sports Info: Kluwe was toward the bottom of the league in terms of placing punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line and he was one of only three regular punters in the NFL last regular season to not have at least one punt of 60 yards. By going with the rookie over Kluwe, the Vikings will save over $860,000 in cash and $998,952 in cap space.

    Bitter has-been is bitter.

    • Kluwe concedes he was replaceable, and that while his performance provided his employers with a valid reason to fire him, their dislike of his views and his outspoken manner of expressing those views made it a heck of a lot easier for them to show him the door. If you left a job where your bosses screamed comments like ‘put all the gays on an island and nuke it until it glows’, you wouldn’t feel like sharing that with the rest of the world once you had no financial incentive to shut up about it anymore?

  17. cool story but nope, wrong. you were cut because you were an old, below average punter about to count 1.5 million towards the salary cap. the new, younger better punter cost a third of that.

    I’m sure that coach was a total dick, but I’m certain if chris kluwe were dropping the ball inside the twenty with regularity, from all over the field, he’d still have a job

  18. Amnda

    I know nothing of sports, but I support gay rights and I also support the right lo like it rough – just how your mother likes it! HA!

  19. I’m waiting for all of the people who were defending Phil Robertson to defend this guy. But then again they won’t, because they’re hypocrites.

    • Not quite, Don. Lots of good logic as to why the two incidences are different. It’s really a stretch to claim otherwise.

    • I was waiting for you to comment on the MSNBC crew mocking Romney’s family picture because they included their adopted black grandchild. But you (and Fish) won’t, because you’re hypocrites.
      Robertson IS the duck dynasty show. Kluwe is an old punter with bad stats and a habit of attracting unwanted attention to his employer by being an outspoken proponent of a controversial political issue. Robertson’ employer flat out said the only reason they disciplined him was because his comments were antithetical to their political position on the issue he spoke out on. Not Kluwe’s employer – they said he was a sucky punter.

  20. As others have mentioned…Kluwe performed poorly in a contract year, couldn’t get a job afterward, and was on a sports team where he could be easily replaced with a rookie that did at least as well as Kluwe’s last season. Was there potential bigotry in a celebrated type-A, serious masculinity-charged sport? I’m sure there’s more than enough to go around. Twice.

    However, given that he couldn’t earn a job with the Raiders after leaving the Vkings…and the Raiders seem to welcome ANY publicity…I think he’s understated his own forgettable stats in an important season for his career.

    I really like Kluwe’s attitude, feisty nature, and the amazing visibility he had despite being in the lowliest player position on a football team. This attack on his former coach, though, even after he’s proven that he can’t get a job on his own merits? It couldn’t look much dumber.

  21. Chris

    I think the question to ask is, if the shoe was on the other foot, and Kluwe was outspoken AGAINST gay rights and such, and he was cut, would these same folks dismissing it still think it had nothing to do with his views? Seems to me that whenever something happens to an outspoken “Conservatives” the right is quick to assume that it’s because of their views, but then are quick dismiss it when it happens to someone with more progressive views. Keep in mind, the NFL (or any professional sports for that matter) are not exactly welcoming bastions of tolerance. There’s a reason there are no “out” players currently on rosters in any of the Big 4. The NFL in particular, isn’t fond of outspoken players.

    That said, I agree that punter is a highly replaceable position and it’s usually quite easy to make the case to cut a punter for legitimate football reasons, but to completely dismiss the idea that his outspokenness accelerated is expendability is simply naïve. I wouldn’t necessarily say it was THE reason he was cut, but I would suggest it helped make it an easier decision for the team.

    • I think it’s untrue that Conservatives are quick to cry foul play. Typically, in this political climate, there is not doubt when a known Republican or outspoken conservative is harshly judged. They tend to be scrutinized aggressively by liberal media for their “intolerance.” I can’t think of, off the top of my head, any instance where a person on the right was “assumed” to have been treated unfairly based on their views alone. Seems like a straw man argument at best.

  22. Jenn

    If that coach person (no damn clue about football) fired this kicker for his beliefs, views, etc, then that’s discrimination. He also sounds like an asshole who provided a hostile work environment, which is harassment.

    However, I don’t want to hear endless news coverage about this bullshit for the next month or so. Fire this and every other bigoted old motherfucker from a cannon and let’s be done with it. That be even better than that Chunkin Punkin show they do every Fall.

  23. justin

    strictly from a business perspective…we are comparing an overpriced and below average kicker to the head of a family featured in the highest rated reality show on tv, whose entire family threatened to walk if he wasnt reinstated, and we cant figure out the difference between the two, regardless of who said what about whom?

  24. AtomicMountain

    “Epic Article”?! “Internet Hero”?! “Twitter Sensation”?!

    He’s just an unemployed PUNTER!

    C’MON, MAN!!!

    • And the conservative FREE SPEECH HERO is an ignorant fake hillbilly who makes duck calls. Your point?

      • If you fire Robertson, there is no show. If you fire Kluwe, the NFL keeps rolling happily along without so much as a hiccup. That in a nutshell defines the scope of your permissible rights to ‘freedom of speech’ in the workplace. Also, Robertson was fired because of what his views were, Kluwe was fired because he was bringing unwanted attention to his employer simply by speaking out on a hot button political issue. If Kluwe had been advocating against gay marriage, they would have fired him just the same, probably a lot sooner.

      • AtomicMountain

        So? The Jets fired Tebow for being a Christian.

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