Chris Kluwe: 5 Reasons Why the Minnesota Vikings Punter is the New Face of the NFL

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When you think about American football players, liberal-leaning World of Warcraft fanatics don’t usually come to mind. However, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe is that and much more.

Never one to shy away from sharing his opinion, Kluwe has spoken out for players’ rights and also about football’s seemingly increasing hunger for more violence. In September 2012, he took to sports blog Deadspin to defend (in fantastical verbiage) Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo when Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. urged Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti to stop Ayanbadejo from speaking in favor of a Maryland ballot initiative to legalize gay marriage. Here are five other ways Kluwe is helping kill the stereotype of dumb, meathead jocks:

5 He doesn’t like to stereotype people.

Kluwe is active in football and online gaming, two fields that are thought to have distinctly different demographics.

“You can’t label people based on one thing they do,” he said. “I think that’s one of my problems when people say I’m just a punter.”

4 He’s concerned about his fellow players.

While it’s unlikely punters run the risk of head injuries as much as other members of football teams, Kluwe has expressed his concerns about the issue, perhaps most publically when he questioned NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about the matter on Reddit. The post included a reference to the Internet meme “Rickroll,” referencing the Rick Astley song “Never Gonna Give You Up.”

But does he think there will be a breaking point for football’s violence levels?

“That really depends on how society values their entertainment,” Kluwe said. “Right now, football is valued as one of the most entertaining sports out there and partly because people want to see guys out there running very fast and hitting very hard. I play football because I really enjoy doing my job well and perform to the best of my abilities. I know for some guys, it’s a way for them to hit guys and not get arrested.”

3 He’s looking beyond a career in football.

A Type A personality, Kluwe said, “I’d like to play football as long as possible because I’d like to think I’m still good at it.” But he acknowledged that a career in a physically demanding sport cannot last forever.

“Whenever football’s done that’ll be the end of that chapter in my life and [I’ll] move on.”

Kluwe is also the bassist for Minneapolis alternative rock band Tripping Icarus and, in June, publisher Little Brown is releasing a collection of his essays. The book’s title, “Beautiful Unique Sparkle Ponies,” is also a term he used to describe Maryland politician Emmet Burns in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Kluwe said he hopes it will offer fans “my views on society and the world and a look at my brain.”

And, no, he has no plans to run for political office.

“I’m not a huge fan of politics,” the self-described Libertarian said.

2 He’s fluent in Internese, making him a favorite with the unknown online masses.

An avid Tweeter and Reddit commenter, Kluwe jokes that “the most important thing to realize is that the Internet is serious business and everything on it should be taken as the gospel truth at all times.”

But, his online presence and his voracious appetite for reading—specifically sci-fi and fantasy books—help him master the language of the internet.

“Just in terms of writing, the more books you can read, the more expanded your vocabulary is going to be,” Kluwe said.

1 He’s one of the most outspoken athletes ever. But he’s also humble.

Kluwe acknowledged his inability to stay quiet on issues that matter to him, but said he didn’t intend to be an expert source or point-person for hot-button issues.

“I’m just me and I like to comment on stuff and now it looks like a lot of people are listening,” Kluwe said, adding that his Twitter followers are mostly made up of sports fans, gamers and equal rights supporters. “It was never my goal to be the most out-spoken athlete ever… the rise of Twitter has given a much broader spectrum to talk to people in.”

And while he happily interacts with fans online and in real life, he said he doesn’t have email alerts set up for his name. He trusts his fan base to tip him off for that.

Whitney Friedlander is a journalist, television fanatic and compulsive shopper living in Los Angeles. She's covered entertainment and fashion for the Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly and other publications.

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