EDEN PRAIRIE, Minnesota -- We found Chris Kluwe by himself at his locker the week before the Bears game. This was after he spent a few weeks under the national media lights about a topic he is passionate about. Kluwe was largely celebrated across the nation for speaking publicly about marriage equality.
This time around, we were there to talk to him about another public display of opinion regarding his profession. "In the Pro Football Hall of Fame there are no punters," he told KARE 11. It's something he'd thought about before, but after recently reading an article about the snubbing of the game's greatest punter, he felt compelled to write a public piece.
"To take away from what someone does, the work we put in, just because we're not out there as much is really... it ignores the whole team aspect of the game," Kluwe said. Along with dozens of other sports writers and NFL fans, he pointed to longtime Oakland Raider great Ray Guy, arguably the best punter of all time.
Guy has been up for the Hall of Fame seven times but has not been inducted. He punted in the 70s and 80s for the Raiders and put punting on the map; some say he's the reason NFL coaches are currently obsessed with a punter's "hang time." Guy is in the College Football Hall of Fame and the nation's best collegiate punter is now awarded with the Ray Guy Award.
"How's he not in the Hall of Fame?" Vikings Center John Sullivan wondered in front of his locker. But then he admitted "I don't think about punters too much." Linebacker Erin Henderson also weighed in when asked. "I don't know, man, maybe people just don't pay attention to them enough," he said.
Vikings Kicker Blair Walsh has been paying attention and perhaps he, more than any other player, sees how much work punters like Kluwe put in every day. "A punter can flip the field at certain times and pin people deep. You know, having a good punter is essential to any good team. If you look around the league, any team that's doing well, I guarantee their punter is doing well at the same time," the rookie kicker explained.
Kluwe had some choice words for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's selection committee in his deadspin.com article titled "An NFL Punter To Hall Of Fame Voters: Ray Guy Was Great At His Job. You Suck at Yours."
"The Hall of Fame shouldn't be all punters, but I think there should be at least one," he said with a smile.
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