Was Straight NFL Player Booted Because of his LGBT Support?

The Minnesota Vikings released Chris Kluwe on Monday, leading to speculation that the move was motivated in part by the punter’s prominent role advocating for gay rights.

“So long, Minnesota, and thanks for all the fish!” Kluwe tweeted Monday morning. “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.”

Kluwe’s release wasn’t a complete surprise — the Vikings drafted another punter late last month. But it’s particularly notable because of Kluwe’s increasingly high-profile role as an advocate for LGBT rights.

“Regardless of whether they admit it, the Vikings are jettisoning Kluwe partly because they grew tired of his outspokenness,” wrote Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist Chip Scoggins on Sunday. “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.”

Kluwe told Scoggins that if he were being jettisoned for his outspokenness, he would be fine with that outcome.

“I think the sacrifice would be worth it,” he said. “Now, I would hope that I would get the chance to play football again, because I think I can still play. But if it ends up being something that costs me that position, I think making people aware of an issue that is causing children to commit suicide is more important than kicking a leather ball.”

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