Most of us I think are entertained by Chris Kluwe and his endless attempts at grabbing attention for himself and his various causes. But there’s always that little nagging question. Do Kluwe’s antics sometimes distract him from his punting duties?
That line was brought up a lot a few weeks back when Kluwe was struggling. The idea that Kluwe should scale back his non-football activities and concentrate harder on his craft. For the most part people dismissed this idea as silly. A man’s life is a man’s life. Kluwe is a good punter and he knows exactly how much practice he needs and how to fix whatever he might be doing wrong mechanically. So went the argument. And when Kluwe’s punting form returned, the controversy – if it ever truly was a controversy – was mostly forgotten.
Well, now the Kluwe distraction concerns are back. And this time the criticism is coming from someone whose voice can’t just be dismissed. The guy ripping Kluwe now isn’t a random internet troll or idiot talk radio caller. It’s his own special teams coach Mike Priefer.
Priefer’s comments come in the wake of Kluwe’s latest high-profile act of protest. On Sunday Kluwe wore a post-it sticker over his Hall of Fame uniform patch. The sticker read “Vote Ray Guy.” A show of support for punter Ray Guy, who has been blackballed from the Hall of Fame even though most people consider him the greatest ever at his position. Kluwe was fined for the move but that might not be the end of the consequences. I don’t know how Leslie Frazier and others in the Vikings organization feel about Kluwe’s activities, but Mike Priefer at least seems kind of irked.
“That’s getting old. He’s just got to concentrate on punting and holding,” Priefer said when asked about Kluwe’s pro-Ray Guy gesture and the attendant fall-out.
The last time the Vikings had concerns about Kluwe’s concentration, they brought in a punter for a try out. I don’t think we’ll see that happen this week since Kluwe has actually been kicking it well the last few games. But you have to ask. How upset are the Vikings’ brass with Kluwe’s extra-curricular activities and would they consider dumping him for someone less colorful?
The question of how far football players should go in conveying personality has come up a lot lately. Last week there was that whole thing with Chad Greenway urging fans to get drunk. That caused Greenway to get some heat, mostly from Mike Florio. Even though Greenway was clearly joking. I happen to think guys like Greenway and Kluwe make sports more fun, but on the other side there are people like Florio and Priefer who want jocks to be robots. Kluwe has always fought that robot-jock mentality, and that’s part of what makes him admirable. Unfortunately, in this case he’s not up against some self-righteous media hack like Florio, he’s up against his own coaches. So he’ll probably have to dial it back unless he wants to possibly lose his job.
There are some fights you just can’t win, no matter how snarky and smart you are. And how right you are.
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