Since the Minnesota Vikings chose to cut veteran punter Chris Kluwe on Monday, a debate has raged over whether his release was performance-based or a result of his outspoken advocacy on a number of social issues — most notably marriage equality.
Kluwe’s days seemed to be numbered when the team used a fifth-round draft pick on UCLA punter Jeff Locke, but some, including Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, feel that the incumbent should have had the opportunity to fight for the starting spot in camp.
“I don’t feel good about it,” Dayton said Wednesday while fielding questions about funding for the Vikings’ new stadium. “I mean I’m not in position to evaluate the role and their punting abilities. But it seems to me the general manager said right after the draft that they were going to have competition. Well, then he brings [Locke] in, he kicks for a weekend and that’s the competition? I mean, I just think sports officials ought to be honest about what the heck is going on. Same way I think public officials should be honest about what’s going on. So that bothers me probably as much if not more than the actual decision.”
In a statement announcing the move, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said that Kluwe — who ranked 17th among NFL punters despite posting a career-high net average last season — was released before offseason activities so he would have an opportunity to sign with another team.