Anyone who has paid attention to the NFL this season should not be surprised by the Chris Kluwe column posted on Deadspin.com on Thursday. Kluwe described in detail a homophobic coach he claims ended his career as a punter with the Minnesota Vikings.
Clearly, the NFL has taken a step back while the rest of the country moves forward on gay issues. Or maybe the NFL is exactly where it always has been -- to the right of the mainstream with a streak of anti-gay through the core. How else to explain the sudden disappearance from the NFL of gay supporters and at least one athlete in his prime who was rumored to be gay? Just coincidences? Maybe. Maybe not.
Kluwe, a straight ally who was an outspoken supporter of gay marriage in Minnesota, is out of the NFL. So is Brendon Ayanbadejo, another supporter. Both saw their careers abruptly end. Too old? Not good enough? Or too gay-friendly?
What about those football players who were supposedly going to come out before this past season ... until they suddenly crept back into the closet? Or Kerry Rhodes, one of the better defensive backs in the game, who is suddenly out of the NFL after he was rumored to be gay?
And what to make of that bizarre Aaron Rodgers interview recently where he felt obligated to declare "I really, really like women" amid gay rumors?
Yes, all are isolated events. But collectively, they send a powerful message: If you are gay -- if you so much as support gays -- you will be out of a job in the NFL. What has happened this year could send gay NFL players back into the closet for years.
So it was not surprising that there could be an anti-gay sentiment within the Vikings that cost Kluwe his career.
But as I read the Kluwe story, there was a line that stopped me cold. It was a quote that Kluwe attributed to the Vikings special teams coach, Mike Priefer: "We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows."
So an NFL coach wants me dead? Yep. He wants to put me on an island
and drop a nuclear bomb on it. He wants me to disappear from the face of this earth. Family, friends, loved ones? All irrelevant to Mike Priefer.
He wants me to glow in the dark.
Yes, I know Priefer has denied saying it. Let's see if he sues Kluwe for
libel. Because it's such a damning quote that Priefer would want to sue
-- would have to sue -- if it wasn't true.
If he doesn't? Then it's a matter of choosing which side to believe.
And forever wondering if someday I might have to interview a coach who doesn't even know me, doesn't know anything about my life, but wants to see me dead.
Photo via Freedom To Marry / flickr