Chris Kluwe (Hannah Foslien/Getty)
Vikings punter Chris Kluwe is back with another strong opinion, calling for a lifetime suspension for Jonathan Vilma for his role in Bountygate. Kluwe said he wondered during the NFC Championship Game if there was intent to injure.
Kickers and punters are a breed to themselves. Jared Allen once said that, as a group, they should be seen and not heard. Scott Studwell was so upset that the Vikings used a sixth-round draft pick on punter Eddie Johnson in 2003, he later claimed he became physically ill knowing the team was going to make the pick. Considering that Johnson’s most infamous moment as a Viking was missing the ball on a punt, Studwell’s nausea may have been well-founded.
But Chris Kluwe is a new breed of punter – one who speaks his mind via social networking and is willing to serve as a voice of the players when an issue comes up that bothers him. On Wednesday, he took to Twitter and delivered an expletive-laced rant about those who bad-mouthed a Vikings player key to the investigation as “a snitch.” On Thursday, he took to the airwaves to express his opinion – on the ongoing scandal, the cover-up and the example that needs to be made.
Kluwe told ESPN 1500 that he and kicker Ryan Longwell were wondering if something was up early in the game when Brett Favre got laid out well after a handoff that had them wondering if something more than aggression was in play.
“Me and Ryan were kind of looking at each other on the bench going, ‘Are they really going after Brett? Is this really what they’re doing?’” Kluwe said. “But you don’t want to believe that something like that is happening because you think better of the other players.”
What got their immediate attention was a play in the first quarter. Brett Favre had handed the ball off to Percy Harvin on a sweep to the left side of the offense. A Saints defender hammered Favre well after he had handed off the ball and, by the design of the play, it seemed obvious the player knew that Favre no longer had the ball because he was blitzing and had the play in front of him.
“I had never seen that before in my life,” Kluwe said.
Shock waves rolled through the NFL players and the media that cover the league when it was announced Sean Payton would be suspended for the entire 2012 season without pay ($7.5 million), especially for those who thought Payton’s maximum punishment might by four to six games. But, not only wasn’t Kluwe surprised by the strong verdict, he was happy about it.
“I was pleased,” Kluwe told 1500 ESPN. “My position has always been that I think (linebacker Jonathan) Vilma and Gregg Williams should be banned for life and then Payton should get a year, their G.M. (Mickey Loomis) should get a year and anyone who knowingly took money after a hit that injured someone should get a year as well.”
Budding criminals may hope Kluwe doesn’t get a law degree and end up getting appointed to a judgeship somewhere down the line. He said the punishment phase of Bountygate isn’t over yet. There are still players to deal with – that process has been delayed while Goodell and NFL Players Association President DeMaurice Smith discuss the post-CBA agreement parameters for potentially handing out multiple suspensions that could cripple the Saints team in 2012. Kluwe said his hope is that Goodell will throw the book at the players too and not have a series of short suspensions.
“I’ll be very disappointed,” Kluwe said. “I think this is a spot where the (union) definitely has to take a stand and say, ‘Look, you put other guys’ livelihoods in danger. You’re jeopardizing others guys’ chance to play.’ Football is violent enough as it is. It’s hard enough to stay healthy in the league and, by maliciously trying to hurt people, they need to show – we need to show – that there is no place in the game for that kind of behavior.”
One hurdle that stands between the Vikings a new stadium might be getting cleared in the next week. Buzz is growing that the Minneapolis City Council is drafting a letter of support for the Vikings stadium bill, which would go a long way to getting a deal finalized.
You have to give the NFL some credit for looking to cash in a fast buck (or 85 bucks, as the case may be). On Thursday, even though the Tim Tebow-to-the-Jets deal had yet to be finalized, the league had a Jets Tebow jersey ready for sale. The only hitch? The uniform had the number 0 on it – claiming shipments would be delayed until next week until the league is informed officially as to what number Tebow will wear with the Jets.
Warren Sapp might end up finding himself getting sued. Sapp, an analyst on NFL Network, went public identifying former Saint Jeremy Shockey as the primary whistleblower (or, as Sapp referred to him as, “a snitch”) in the Bountygate scandal. Shockey has vehemently denied that he was a source of information for the investigation and offered to take a live polygraph test to prove it. If Sapp is wrong with his finger-pointing, Shockey could potentially sue Sapp for slander. If nobody signs the free-agent tight end, don’t be surprised if Sapp gets served with papers … and loses in court.
Former Saints CB Tracy Porter signed a
one-year contract with the Denver Broncos late Thursday, taking another cornerback off the free-agent market.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.