Local beat writers, perhaps in the spirit of election season, couldn’t wait to pounce on Chris Kluwe and Leslie Frazier this week in an attempt to generate interesting quotes about how Kluwe’s recent struggles on the field can, or cannot, be linked to his endeavors off the field.
Kluwe and Frazier predictably answered the questions appropriately, despite the media’s best attempts to use the phrase “child’s game” in provocative fashion, and everyone seems willing to move on with the only goal being to get better production out of the punt game.
I know that gay marriage is a hot button issue in the nation right now and Kluwe’s choice to take a stance is unpopular with about 50% of the population, but I can’t help but think that the extra attention being paid to this is strictly a result of the subject matter. It is because people oppose his cause that this is drawing so much criticism as I am confident that nobody would be saying a word if his “cause” were raising money and awareness for cancer, fighting to save the rainforests from destruction, or supporting military members and their families.
We have a defensive end that trained to be an Olympian. We have another that holds a golf tournament, published his own cook book, hunts whenever he gets the chance, appeared on MTV’s “Cribs,” and was willing to campaign on behalf of the Vikings controversial stadium efforts. Our star running back filmed an episode of “Entourage,” has missed part of a training camp due to Adrian Peterson Day in Texas, and just yesterday visited a classroom of school children. Christian Ponder and Chad Greenway have been spokesman for a program regarding financial literacy.
NFL players are people with lives, families, hobbies, beliefs, passions, and flaws. Just like the rest of us, their personal lives probably do spill into their professional output but it is quite the stretch, in my opinion, to conclude that Kluwe’s recent activism has resulted in poor punting. Unlike the rest of us, they have crazy schedules including TV appearances, endorsement deals, photo shoots, and so on and so on.
Did Peyton Manning’s recent purchasing of a piece of the pizza pie impact his production? How about Matt Birk’s taping of an ad speaking out against gay marriage? The list goes on and on and I won’t bore you by going through them all, but I will say this:
I have already talked with one person that swears up and down that Kluwe is distracted. That very same person argued emphatically with me a couple of years back that there was no way, no how that Brett Favre could have possibly been distracted by the alleged claims of sexual harassment and sexting scandal. Double standard much?
So, the point I am trying (and failing miserably) to get to is that Chris Kluwe needs to punt better. I know it. You know it. He knows it. The coaches know it. However, trying to proclaim his personal time is the reason for his professional struggles, without any sort of proof, is just an oddly lazy route to take, whether it is by the media or the fans.
The bigger issue here is whether or not his punting is just experiencing a bad run, or if this will become a trend. Kluwe is in the second-to-last year of his seven year contract and is set to make $1.3 million this season and $1.4 million next season, both of which are very high for a punter.
If his production doesn’t match his pay pretty soon he may not even reside in Minnesota any longer, let alone impact the political landscape. He may have to figure out how to attend band practice via Skype, and he probably won’t be employed by the local radio station very long.
Football is far more likely to impact his personal life, rather than the other way around.