The best World of Warcraft player to don a football uniform is no longer a member of the Minnesota Vikings.
Chris Kluwe is out as Minnesota’s punter.
This is old news by now, but it still makes me kind of sad. He was a personality that us regular people could identify with.
Kluwe is not some overly muscled, freakishly athletic running back, a pompous wide receiver or some giant of a lineman who gets into fights with people at strip clubs.
Other than his ability to precisely place a football with his right foot — a task at which he usually excelled since he started with the Vikings in 2005 — Kluwe seems like a pretty regular guy.
He’d often step behind the mic on morning radio shows and joke about his video game playing and involvement with music; he is the bassist for the Minneapolis-based alternative rock band, Tripping Icarus.
Some are speculating Kluwe was released by the Vikings for his outspokenness on matters outside of the NFL, namely his support of same-sex marriage.
Vikings General Manger Rick Spielman has told the media that the decision to release Kluwe was one that was made for “football reasons,” not because of Kluwe’s choice to speak out on hot-button political issues.
This might be true, it might not; the only one who knows for sure is Spielman.
The Vikings drafted Jeff Locke, a UCLA punter/kicker in the fifth round of this year’s draft, who was a fine college player, but that pick left some people scratching their heads.
The 31-year-old Kluwe owns the Vikings’ best career gross punting average of 44.4 yard-per-punt and is second in team history with a net average of 37.3, according to a Fox Sports article. Kluwe also set a career high with a 39.7-yard net average last year.
Granted, he had his fair share of shanks last year, too, but I didn’t think it was enough for him to be released. He has a proven NFL track record and Locke is an untested NFL product.
College success doesn’t always equate to accomplishment in the pros.
Anybody remember running back Ron Dayne? He was a standout player for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, winning the Heisman in 1999. But he fizzled when he got to the NFL, never achieving the kind of success he did as a college player. I’m not saying that’s going to be the case with Locke, but you never know.
In any case, I don’t think the Vikings should have drafted a punter this year. I think Kluwe has plenty left in the tank, and his outspokenness had at least something to do with why he was released.
Honestly, I don’t care if people agree with Kluwe’s politics or not, and I realize he’s a professional athlete who has made quite a bit of money in his career, so we shouldn’t feel that sorry for him.
But I hope an NFL team picks him up and he continues to be successful, just so nerdy average Joes everywhere have a football player to identify with.
And if he doesn’t get picked up? I have a bag of Magic: The Gathering cards somewhere in my house that I could dig up — kind of embarrassing, I know. Kluwe is welcome to stop by play a round or two if he fancies himself a real nerd.