Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘Chris Kluwe

Quick (Sports) Hits, Friday Edition

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Folks, I’d hoped to write a post tonight about P.G. Wodehouse, which is the second of my “Learning from the Fiction Masters” blogs. However, that needs must be postponed as I have lots of work at the moment and very little time to do it in . . . I apologize, but I’m going to make this a bi-weekly series for the time being, and will have a new blog in this series up next Friday instead.

Anyway, I do have a few quick hits for you, updates regarding previous blog posts about sports. So here we go!

  • NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has changed his mind about domestic violence. Instead of the piddly two-game suspension Goodell gave to Ray Rice for hitting his then-fiancée and dragging her off an elevator (I wrote about this here), new domestic violence offenders will be penalized six games for the first offense, and have a lifetime ban after the second — but the lifetime ban is a qualified one, meaning the offender can try for reinstatement after a year away from football (and presumably improving his life in some way). This is good news, and I applaud Goodell for taking a step in the right direction.

    But Ray Rice still got over, and I remain deeply unhappy about that.

  • Chris Kluwe had filed a lawsuit against the Minnesota Vikings over the way special teams coach Mike Priefer behaved during the 2012 season (I discussed Priefer’s behavior in this blog, though I did not discuss the lawsuit as I was waiting for a resolution there — or perhaps for the trial to start, take your pick.) The Vikings initially were going to fight Kluwe, but instead have settled with him. The proceeds of this lawsuit are going to several LGBT and transgender charities, and are believed to exceed $100,000 (but are perhaps shy of the cool million dollars Kluwe’s lawyer was initially asking for); none of it benefits Kluwe directly in any way.

    I see no losers in this deal.

  • I continue to watch the Milwaukee Brewers, 2014 edition, and am cautiously optimistic that they can win the National League Central division. (Despite them stinking up the field thus far tonight in San Francisco, where as of this writing they are down, 6-1, in the bottom of the 4th.) The best position player thus far has probably been Jonathan Lucroy, and the best and most consistent starting pitcher all season long has been Kyle Lohse. (Don’t get fooled by Wily Peralta’s current pitching record of 15-8. Peralta can be very good, or very awful, and tonight he was awful as he gave up six earned runs.)

    Mind, I am worried about the relief pitching. Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez has been giving up homers lately in his save opportunities, and blew a save on Wednesday precisely because of that. Will Smith has looked good again lately, but has had a ton of appearances; so have Zach Duke and Brandon Kintzler and most of the rest of the Brewers bullpen.

    At some point, the Brewers pitchers may hit the wall, collectively. (We’re already seeing that with Peralta, and may have seen signs of that already with Smith, Duke and Kintzler.) If that happens, and the Brewers cannot bring up fresh and experienced arms, that will imperil the Brewers playoff chances — much less their chances to win the NL Central.

Oh, and as for folks wondering what I’m up to with regards to reviewing books over at Shiny Book Review? I hope to review something tomorrow, but it still won’t be “Mad Mike” Williamson’s excellent FREEHOLD. (I want more time and energy than I currently have to discuss that book. Let’s just say, for now, that I really have enjoyed my re-read and that it’s unlikely any fans of Mad Mike will be displeased by anything I have to say.)

It’s more likely that I will review a romance of some sort for Romance Saturday, even though I’m not exactly sure what at this point…still, I will find something, and we’ll all know tomorrow!

Chris Kluwe, Aaron Rodgers, LGBT Advocacy and the NFL

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This was an odd week in the National Football League, wasn’t it?

First we had Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers come out and state emphatically for the record, “I really, really like women” in response to some Internet rumors regarding Rodgers’ sexuality.  This was completely unprecedented, especially considering the fact his team is preparing for a huge playoff game this Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers — a team that beat the Packers, 34-28, earlier this season in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicated.

Usually, when teams prepare for big games, the last thing any player wants to do is talk about anything except the upcoming game.  Even major stars like Rodgers generally try to sublimate their own concerns during football season, most especially during the playoffs.

So Rodgers doing this was strange, to put it mildly, and created a minor furor.

But that was nothing compared to the furor that occurred once former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe’s story at Deadspin about how he believes was fired from the Vikings partially because they didn’t like his advocacy for gay rights was published.

Here’s a bit from Kluwe’s first person account if you don’t believe me:

Throughout the months of September, October, and November, Minnesota Vikings special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer would use homophobic language in my presence. He had not done so during minicamps or fall camp that year, nor had he done so during the 2011 season. He would ask me if I had written any letters defending “the gays” recently and denounce as disgusting the idea that two men would kiss, and he would constantly belittle or demean any idea of acceptance or tolerance. I tried to laugh these off while also responding with the notion that perhaps they were human beings who deserved to be treated as human beings. Mike Priefer also said on multiple occasions that I would wind up burning in hell with the gays, and that the only truth was Jesus Christ and the Bible. He said all this in a semi-joking tone, and I responded in kind, as I felt a yelling match with my coach over human rights would greatly diminish my chances of remaining employed. I felt uncomfortable each time Mike Priefer said these things.

Kluwe’s indictment is incendiary, but rings true from my perspective as a long-term fan of the NFL. But it’s a sad commentary on our life and times, isn’t it?

What irks me so much about both these stories is this: It doesn’t have to be this way. Not even in the NFL.

Seriously, Rodgers’ sexual orientation is no one else’s business. If he’s gay, bisexual, straight, Martian — who cares? He’s a football player and is paid to win games.

As for what Kluwe says, and how outspoken he’s been about saying it, again, who cares?  He always was careful, as he points out in his article for Deadspin, to speak only for himself — not for the Vikings.  And his own former team owner, Zygi Wilf, actually complimented Kluwe on Kluwe’s stance — so if the coaches had a problem with it, especially if Kluwe continued to perform well on the field, why?

Then, contrast the two above stories with this story about the 1993 Houston Oilers, which apparently had two openly gay players on the roster. No one cared, because they played good football. They were excellent teammates. And their sexual orientation was no one else’s business but theirs.

For all the progress we’ve made in the 21st Century regarding LGBT rights, it seems ridiculous that someone like Kluwe would be fired for his advocacy of same when in 1993, no one on the Oilers cared two figs about anyone’s sexual orientation.

If the 1993 Oilers could get it right, why can’t the 2013 Vikings?

And why, oh why, would any player (much less Rodgers) believe it’s more important to talk about his rumored sexual orientation than the job he’s being paid to do, preparing for this week’s football game?

Are these two stories part of a counter-reaction to the progress that’s been made regarding LGBT rights? Significantly, is it a backlash against Jason Collins, who came out as gay last year? Is it a backlash against soccer stars Megan Rapinoe and Robbie Rogers, who’ve also come out as gay?

Is the NFL so afraid that one of its current players may come out as gay or bisexual that it’s imperative for Rodgers to interrupt his training regimen to insist that he “really likes women?”

And why couldn’t Kluwe find a job in the NFL as a punter despite being one of the better punters in the NFL for years?  The NFL’s supposed to be a results-driven league, right?

Anyway, the crux of all three stories is this:

The 1993 Oilers were right. The 2013 Vikings were wrong. And Rodgers shouldn’t need to say anything about his sexual orientation, ’cause no one should care two flying figs providing he’s doing the job on the field.

Why the NFL doesn’t seem to understand this is beyond me.

Waiting to Exhale — er, Waiting for the REAL NFL Refs

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Folks, after the last few days — after replacement referees made one of the worst calls in the history of the National Football League, which decided the Seattle-Green Bay game in favor of the team that should’ve lost (Seattle Seahawks) and took a win away from the team that should’ve won (Green Bay Packers) on the final play of the game — I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop.

You could say that I’ve been waiting to exhale.

But in a phrase, what I’m feeling is this: bring on the real NFL refs.  Now.

What’s sad is that we have these incompetent replacement refs for one reason: the NFL, in a word, is cheap.  The owners have locked out the real refs because they don’t want to have to pay $3 million or so in pensions.

As Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said, it’s wrong for the NFL — a multi-billion dollar enterprise — to be fighting the real, professional referees over a few million dollars in pension funds. 

And not only does this make the NFL look silly and stupid, it also makes them look completely uninterested in player safety.  Most replacement refs just aren’t up to the standard that the real NFL refs pride themselves on.  And that’s going to lead to player injuries sooner or later.

Oh, wait.  It’s already happened.  Because Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub lost a piece of his ear — yes, his ear — on Sunday due to an illegal hit by a member of the Denver Broncos defense, Joe Mays.  One that might not have occurred had the real refs been on the field.

And it’s not just me being upset by this.  Nor the sports columnists across the nation, nor even the Packers players.  Some players on other teams are also upset.

For example, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe — surely one of the most articulate football players ever — said this today to the St. Paul Pioneer-Press:

Kluwe said . . . some of the controversial decisions exemplified how important good officiating is to the integrity of the game.

“I think it made a lot of people aware of just how tough the job of being a referee is,” Kluwe said. “You can’t just plug someone in and expect them to be able to deal with the speed of the game and just how fast guys are moving out there. I think it shed some light on what is, a lot of times, a very unrewarding profession. If a ref is doing his job right, a lot of times it’s like a punter or a long snapper: You don’t notice them.

“It’ll be good to have those guys back.”

Or how about Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald?  This past Tuesday, Fitzgerald talked about the disputed ending to the Packers-Seahawks game to Yahoo Sports and said this (after a bit of a reprise from football columnist Mark Rogers):

Week 3 of the season was marred with a spate of disputed decisions but it was not until the dying moments of the Monday night clash between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers that the furor came to a dramatic head. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s game-winning pass to Golden Tate appeared to have been intercepted by Packers safety M.D. Jennings, only for the officials to award the touchdown that handed Seattle a 14-12 victory.

“Being a player you want to know you are being protected and that is truly important to me,” Fitzgerald said. “On the play last night, I thought the same [thing] that everyone else thought. I thought it was an interception, I thought it was clear as day but unfortunately that call wasn’t made.

“This is definitely going to have playoff implications. You know Green Bay is going to be in the thick of the playoff hunt, you know Seattle is going to be in the thick of the playoff hunt. I just hope that later on in the year this is not something that comes back to hurt one of those teams.”

So at least one player who’s not on the Packers has already figured out that the replacement refs have adversely affected the Packers — and have unfairly benefited the Seahawks.  Imagine that!

One final word about the replacement refs, this time courtesy of Pioneer-Press football columnist Joe Soucheray.  He described what’s going on now as:

(Games are) like watching a movie where you begin to notice all the mistakes the director has made, furniture that isn’t supposed to be in the scene, characters called different names 10 minutes apart, pieces of equipment in the shot.

Soucheray goes on to say that he didn’t see the end of the Green Bay-Seattle game, but he didn’t need to:

Because before that I had seen enough to wonder how long the NFL intends to flirt with disaster. There is something else at work here, the very real prospect of outright corruption. I am not at all suggesting that the temps are corrupt. I am suggesting that with each passing week they are in danger of getting things so wrong that a victory might be awarded to a team that lost, if, in fact, that didn’t happen Monday night.

So that’s where we’re at right now.  The NFL has a bunch of refs who aren’t ready for prime time, but three games have been played with these incompetent and inadequate refs.  And at least one game has been decided for the wrong team due to these same refs, which is utterly absurd.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell needs to do the right thing; he needs to get the real refs back on the field, and stop his posturing already. 

And until the NFL gets its act together and gets the real refs on the field, I’m not going to watch or listen to any games, and I’m going to do my best not to follow along online, either.

Because this farce has gone on long enough.