Football player, pro-equality activist, and confirmed nerd Chris Kluwe confirmed his departure from the Minnesota Vikings with an appropriately geeky reference to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy today, tweeting, "So long, Minnesota, and thanks for all the fish!"
After nearly nine years on the team, Out magazine cover model Kluwe was replaced by incoming punter Jeff Locke, a 25-year-old whose selection during the NFL draft more or less made clear Kluwe was being put out to pasture. Kluwe even alluded to such a fate after Locke's pick-up. "It’s a shame that in a league with players given multiple second chances after arrests, including felony arrests, that speaking out on human rights has a chance of getting you cut,” he tweeted to ProFootballTalk after the draft.
The Vikings of course insist Kluwe's pro-gay, pro-gun control, Libertarian advocacy had nothing to do with their decision, but Chip Scroggins from The Star-Tribune thinks that's impossible. "It’s naive to think the move is based solely on his age (31), salary ($1.45 million) or how he performed last season (inconsistently). Kluwe has become the most visible punter in NFL history because of his social activism," he writes. That summation's made even more credible by the fact that Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Priefer said last December he's growing tired of Kluwe's "distractions." "Those distractions are getting old for me, to be quite honest with you," he said after Kluwe campaigned on field to have former Oakland Raiders player Ray Guy inducted into the Hall of Fame
Kluwe kept his farewell letter free of NFL politics, though, concluding, "Thank you to all the fans, my teammates, and the Wilf family for the past 8.5 years. I wouldn't have traded it for anything... And thank you everyone for your support. Remember, one label does not define who you are as a person :)"
So what's next for Kluwe? He could try to find another team to take him, but the player himself has admitted he's grown a bit lazy vis a vis training, so maybe he'll reserve his brains, political passion, and good looks for some off-the-field action. Public office perhaps? Anti-gay Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's up for reelection in 2014. Just saying.