When NFL training camps open this week, there will be some thousands of free agent players trying to win a spot on a team. While a relative few will make it, everyone relishes the opportunity. Unfortunately, one player will not get such a chance, even though he is healthy and talented enough to get on a team.
Punter Chris Kluwe last played for the Minnesota Vikings. His contract was not renewed after the 2012 season and has spent most of his time since then living in Southern California. While the official reason was that his numbers were not consistent enough, Kluwe believes that he was discriminated against because of his views on gay marriage. Kluwe was particularly outspoken in his beliefs before more than a dozen states allowed such marriages.
Kluwe claimed that his special teams coach was especially unsupportive, and that he often used gay slurs and other disparaging remarks in practice. Naturally, the coach, and the Vikings, denied this. In fact, the Vikings conducted an independent investigation and determined that Kluwe’s complaints about discrimination did not have merit. However, it was revealed that his special teams coach lied about his statements, and has since been suspended for three games during the upcoming season. The suspension reportedly will be reduced to two games upon successful completion of sensitivity training.
In the meantime, Kluwe intends to press on with his lawsuit. The story is an unfortunate example of how employees may be silenced by management when they do not agree with an employee’s views on controversial issues. It is also a reminder that such actions may be against the law.
Source: SI.com, “Chris Kluwe to file lawsuit against Vikings on Wednesday,” July 21, 2014