In case you didn’t notice, the Minnesota Vikings and ex-punter Chris Kluwe are engaged in an ugly public relations battle that will soon evolve to an even uglier legal battle. Kluwe threw the first punch with his hefty accusations published at Deadspin back in January.
It took a while, but the Vikings organization has circled the wagons, and now thrown a few jabs back at Kluwe. Their summary of the investigation findings was released last night and then Chris Kluwe proceeded to, quite frankly, punch himself in the face on Twitter a few times last night.
The Vikings still contend that Chris Kluwe was not fired from his job for his activism, but rather released from his contract for football reasons, and I believe them (always have thought that, if you’ve been here for a while). Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer has also finally stopped lying and apologized for making inappropriate comments and the Vikings are reprimanding him with a suspension. Rick Spielman and Leslie Frazier seem to be non-issues, essentially, despite the title of Kluwe’s initial article.
In many cases like this there are never any clear winners, just losers, outside of the legal team being paid to play prevent defense within the confines of the judicial system. This is a high profile case, however, so you can probably put “media outlets” right up there with the lawyers when it comes to people that stand to benefit from this mess.
Now comes the mud, however.
In an obvious attempt to attack Kluwe’s character the Vikings have included in their release a tidbit that turned into a social media bombshell. They say that Kluwe made light of the Penn State molestation situation in a lewd and offensive manner, and he admits that he did.
He also attempted to threaten the organization by claiming to have knowledge of a situation involving two well-known Vikings players being caught in a compromising situation with an underage girl. That admission backfired a bit, as people immediately wondered why Kluwe has again sat on his hands and done nothing with this information about his former employers.
This morning, before leaving for a long Saturday (yes, Saturday, dang it) of work at my real job, I read a number of articles from fine writers questioning Kluwe’s intent. Some were more harsh than others.
One of those articles came from Gregg Doyel at CBS Sports, and this evening Kluwe felt compelled to respond to Mr. Doyel, who called Kluwe out as being disgusting and hypocritical. You can read the whole thing here, but I want to focus on something Kluwe has said a few times over the past 24 hours, and said it again in his response to Doyel.
If it comes to speaking truth to power, standing up to blind fanaticism, that’s what I’m going to do.
This is the type of well-planned rhetoric that I have grown accustomed to in all things Kluwe. The guy is a wordsmith and a talented one. Still, I’m calling bulls*** on this one, and his other versions of the same sentiment, and feel like it is an attack on myself and many other Vikings fans.
I used to think this case that Kluwe had against Priefer and the Vikings was bigger than football. That is what was annoying about it as a hack football blogger, to be honest, because it wasn’t an X’s and O’s type of storyline, but it was important enough that it couldn’t be ignored. Regardless of how your politics are oriented, social justice is something we can’t simply ignore in favor of a sporting event or else we all lose, plain and simple.
Still, Kluwe’s decision to bring this back down to the level of football fandom and attack those that have “sided” with his “opponents” smells of desperation and is an insult to a fanbase that once showed him plenty of love.
Having covered the Vikings for quite a while now I can tell you that a majority of fans do not blindly support the Vikings organization. I’ve seen them criticize the organization for plenty, and I’m not just talking about on the field productivity.
I’ve seen fans call for the Wilf family to be run out of town for their demand for public funds. I’ve seen fans point to the arrests up and down rosters of Vikings past and demand change. I’ve seen fans upset over the release of a player on Christmas, over the team’s support of a player that allegedly choked his girlfriend, and over the lewd conduct of the players on that boat.
I’ve seen fans declare their fandom to be finished over how the organization treated specific players, with Antoine Winfield being the most recent example that comes to mind.
Chris Kluwe needs to understand that fans, myself included, are individuals that are capable of deciding things for ourselves. Many, albeit not all, are even intelligent enough to make coherent and intelligent decisions (or assumptions, as he might call them) about a subject being presented. We are even able to put our excitement over Vikings football to the side in order to form our opinions, whether he believes it or not.
I’m not saying Kluwe isn’t on the other end of some unfair and uninformed venom, especially considering he chooses to be plugged into social media as a public figure, I’m sure he sees more than his fair share of it. Conversely, he and the equality movement also have blind followers that will defend and attack on cue without considering the opposing viewpoint.
However, some of his own assumptions are way off base, starting with the one where he thinks any Vikings fan that disagrees with his approach to these issues are simply blind followers of some colors on a jersey.
At the other end of a disagreement is not always a blind follower of a football team, or a religion, or a political platform. At the other end of those arguments are often someone who just flat out thinks he is wrong, or thinks he is partially wrong, or is maybe even still trying to sort this mess out in their mind and has their doubts.
What Mike Priefer did was wrong and that has been admitted. I’ve never agreed with Kluwe’s reasoning for why he thinks he was released, but I’ve never questioned his integrity, until last night’s Twitter rant. I still don’t think Kluwe was wronged when he was released, but now I’m wondering about his character as a person willing to harass a coach about their affiliation to an organization facing the worst kind of scandal and also his willingness to sit idle while the Vikings allegedly sweep their own scandal under the rug.
Mike Priefer needs to be accountable for what he did. Now, however, Chris Kluwe has some explaining to do. According to Kluwe’s Twitter account, we will have to wait until he’s in court to get that explanation, because that way it will be “more fun.”
Call it blind faith in a football team if you want to be that ignorant about it, but I’m starting to have some serious doubts about the punter who thinks he can do no wrong and his willingness to belittle the rest of us.
Out of fairness to Kluwe, I offered him a chance to respond to this article before I posted it, and here is what he had to say:
So you know, that reference was to Penn State, not to people who support the Vikings. That’s your assumption to make, not what I stated. My issue is with people who blindly support something no matter what evidence comes out (i.e. Penn State), and something you may want to consider is that the Vikings released a version of the report they carefully combed for what they wanted to present, not the entire thing. If you’re truly for informed conversation, the Vikings releasing the full report will allow us to have that. What they currently put out? Nothing more than the opening salvo from a company getting ready for a protracted legal battle.Ask yourself this. In a 29 page summary of a 150 page report with 1600 pages of footnotes and sources, why were only 3 pages devoted to the actual subject of the report, and 26 devoted to the person who raised the complaint.Just something to think about.