EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Chris Kluwe is going to go out of the Minnesota Vikings organization, kicking.
"I'm in the prime of my career," Kluwe said confidently on Monday afternoon, just hours after he was told by Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman that he would be relieved of his duties with the team.
This was no surprise to Kluwe, the writing was on the wall last month with the team drafted a kicker in the fifth round, ironically, from Kluwe's alma mater UCLA.
But even so, Monday was bittersweet for Kluwe, an eight-season veteran with the team.
"I've loved being here. I met a lot of really great people and I'm going to miss not being able to play for the Vikings," Kluwe said.
So that leaves us to kick around the why.
Was it his performance last year, statistically he was in the lower third of the league for punters combined with his $1.4 million salary for next season?
Or was it his very public pulpit on the issue of gay marriage?
"It's a question people want to know and like I said I don't know what goes on in those meetings so I don't know," Kluwe said.
The truth is we likely won't know what ultimately provoked the Vikings to punt on Kluwe.
And if his mouth got his foot fired, he says, that's quite all right.
"I regret nothing. I wouldn't have changed it for the world because to me there are issues more important than football. There are things that need to be talked about. There is a lot of inequality that goes on in the world." Kluwe said.
In a statement from the Minnesota Vikings, here Spielman said, "Chris has meant a great deal to the Vikings both on and off the field in his eight seasons here. He contributed to many victories and we wish Chris and his family the best and thank him for his contributions to the Vikings organization. Out of respect to Chris, we decided to release him now and allow time for him to sign with another team."
Kluwe signed with the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent out of UCLA in 2005, but he didn't survive the final roster cut and was signed by the Vikings soon after.
He etched his name into the team record book in several game, single-season and career categories. He ranks No. 1 in team history with a 44.4-yard career gross average and 198 career punts inside the 20, and he ranks No. 2 in team history with a 37.3 career net average.
While Kluwe did register a career best 39.7 net average in 2012, that was only good enough to rank No. 17 in the NFL. The Vikings also ranked No. 31 in punts inside the 20 (18) and No. 20 in gross average (45.0).
Kluwe's totals for punts inside the 20 and opponents fair catches decreased for the second consecutive year. Also, the last time the Vikings ranked in the Top 10 in gross average, net average or punts inside the 20 was 2010 (T-5th; net average: 9th).
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