Former NFL punter Chris Kluwe wrote earlier this month that one of the reasons the Vikings released him was because he was outspoken on marriage equality. During an appearance on Olbermann Thursday, Kluwe compared his NFL plight to that of quarterback Tim Tebow, who was known as much for his religious beliefs as his playing ability.
“As much as we are polar opposites on the things we stand for, Tebow is the exact same way,” Kluwe said (via ProFootballTalk.com). “There are backup quarterbacks in the NFL right now that Tebow is certainly better than -- he could fill a role with a team. But because he brings this other stuff with him, just like I bring my other stuff with me, teams look at it like, ‘We don't want it. We don't want players speaking out. We don't want players doing anything other than football.'”
Kluwe reiterated that his football fate is a direct result of public stance on social issues.
“I think anyone speaking up about anything, the NFL is kind of like, ‘You might alienate a portion of our market, so don't do that. Just be football. Just be football,'” he said.
But as PFT.com's Michael David Smith points out, both Kluwe and Tebow were cut in training camps last summer, not because of what they said but because they weren't among the 53 best players on the roster.
Of course, it's also not uncommon for players with special talents to be given more leeway when it comes to off-field goings-on, whether it's as relatively benign as speaking out on a cause some deem controversial or frequent legal run-ins.
In a football sense, Kluwe and Tebow were disposable. And that, likely more than anything, is why they're out of the league.