MINNEAPOLIS - As a punter for the Minnesota Vikings, Chris Kluwe only has one day off this week. After a workout at Winter Park in the morning the outspoken social media guru spent the rest of his day, until dark, on the phone with reporters.
"I'm enjoying it because it's a way to get out a message that I feel very strongly about," Kluwe told KARE 11 in a rare moment, between national print and radio interviews. Kluwe sent an opinion piece to deadspin.com critical of a Maryland lawmaker who was critical of a Baltimore Ravens player who supported same-sex marriage (warning: the letter does contain graphic language). Kluwe says he's fighting for basic civil rights.
His twitter followers doubled over the weekend; he's now up over 100,000 followers. He received more than 6,000 messages in support of his position and six messages opposed to it. "The world's a better place because you took the time and the courage to stand up to bigotry and hatred" is what one supporter wrote. "What are you saying? You're only a punter," a detractor messaged him.
"It struck me. This is kind of indicative of what is emerging today," Assistant Professor Seth Lewis with the U of M's School of Journalism said. Lewis not only studies the effects of social media, he also teaches them. The professor notes platforms likes twitter give athletes and actors a chance to share their opinions without a media filter. "To the extent that the NFL and the Vikings don't get on his case for having done this I think it certainly kind of opens the door for other athletes to say okay, I might speak up on something as well," Lewis concluded.
Kluwe, who has tweeted 40 to 100 times a day since he joined twitter four years ago, was happy to continue the marriage debate conversation on his day off. He only has one regret. His dad gave him quite an opinion on his off-color language displayed in his original editorial to deadspin.com. "So going forward there probably won't be as much word-smithing going on, but at the same time I stand behind the contents of the message 100 percent," Kluwe concluded.
He also says come Wednesday, his attention will be back on putting his boot on the ball, getting ready for the upcoming game against the Indianapolis Colts.
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