By Elizabeth DiNovella on January 03, 2014

Ex-Minnesota Viking Chris Kluwe says he's "pretty confident" he lost his punter job with the Vikings because he spoke out for gay rights.

"This is a story about how actions have consequences, no matter how just or moral you think your cause happens to be, and it's a story about the price people all too often pay for speaking out," he writes in a first-person piece posted on

In 2012, Minnesotans for Marriage Equality asked Kluwe if he would be interested in helping defeat anti-gay marriage legislation which would've defined marriage as "only a union of one man and one woman." The amendment was voted down, and same-sex marriage is now legal in Minnesota.

Kluwe says he got the OK from the team's legal department before starting his activism. He also says that owner Zygi Wilf was supportive.

But he didn't get the OK from coach Leslie Frazier. After Kluwe wrote a letter defending gay rights, the coach called him into his office after practice.

"Once inside, Coach Frazier immediately told me that I 'needed to be quiet, and stop speaking out on this stuff' (referring to my support for same-sex marriage rights)," Kluwe explains. "I told Coach Frazier that I felt it was the right thing to do (what with supporting equality and all), and I also told him that one of his main coaching points to us was to be 'good men' and to 'do the right thing.' He reiterated his fervent desire for me to cease speaking on the subject, stating that 'a wise coach once told me there are two things you don't talk about in the NFL, politics and religion.'"

To any avid sports fan, that last line is just laughable. Coaches and players trot out Jesus all the time and it's perfectly acceptable. Remember Tim Tebow's posturing?

Or what about in 2006, when the Chicago Bears faced the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl? Much was made about the fact that both teams had black coaches. During a television interview, Bears head coach Lovie Smith downplayed the significance of this and said the important thing was that they were both Christian coaches. Nothing bad happened to Smith for saying that.

A year ago, Kluwe was on "The Colbert Report," and used the opportunity to speak out for gay rights. I remember being shocked at his candor, and then wondering how he was he going to keep his job.

Well, now we know. He couldn't.

"It's my belief, based on everything that happened over the course of 2012, that I was fired by Mike Priefer, a bigot who didn't agree with the cause I was working for, and two cowards, Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman, both of whom knew I was a good punter and would remain a good punter for the foreseeable future, as my numbers over my eight-year career had shown, but who lacked the fortitude to disagree with Mike Priefer on a touchy subject matter," Kluwe concludes. "One of the main coaching points I've heard throughout my entire life is, 'How you respond to difficult situations defines your character,' and I think it's a good saying. I also think it applies to more than just the players."

Photo: Flickr user Bill Bielawa, creative commons licensed.


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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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