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Chris Kluwe on Overtime Discussing Michael Sam in the NFL

Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe joined Jeff Thurn on Wednesday’s edition of Overtime to discuss Michael Sam being drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the 7th Round of the NFL Draft. 

Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) punted for Minnesota from 2005 to 2012.

Thurn asks Kluwe if ESPN showing Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend when he was selected in the seventh round of the NFL Draft was too much for television: 

“No, I think it’s perfectly appropriate for T.V. I mean, when you talk about other draft picks responding to the moment, they kiss their wives, their girlfriends. You have commentators out there who were basically salivating over players girlfriends or wives. A.J. McCarron, perfect example of that. So, what’s the difference with Michael Sam? In the moment, he should be allowed to enjoy that moment just like every draft prospect is.”

Kluwe on why the media views Sam as a heroic act, and second, if it matters if he is gay, and if it should it be just about football?

“Yeah, it’s the old, why is this news argument? The other thing, yes, that’s hopefully what we are moving toward where this isn’t news because they are in accepted by society to where you should be able to live your life. But in order to get there, first it has to be news because it hasn’t been done before and so the thing is, instead of asking, ‘why is this good, why isn’t this just about football, why can’t we just focus on football?’ Recognize the fact that there has been a very serious problem which is making this news and are taking steps to that.”

Kluwe was speaking at a atheist convention in Utah, and while he isn’t atheist, he said this quote, ‘honestly I don’t care either way, I care about how you treat people.’ Thurn used that phrase when talking about Sam because he feels like that is the best way to address the situation from a religious aspect. He goes on to ask the former punter if when you talking to people that aren’t pro-Sam, if that squashes the argument?

“It really kind of does because the thing is, you are free to believe whatever you want. That’s one of the founding principles of this country. The First Amendment guarantees your freedom of religion. But the flip side of that is the First Amendment also guarantees your freedom from religion, and that you can’t be forced to do something by religious beliefs you don’t want to do. So, with (Michael) Sam, there’s lots of books out there, and they lots of different things. What matters is how does he treat people? How do you treat people? How do you treat Sam and people like Sam? Really, that is the only way we can ever judge someone, and that’s by their actions.”

Will Sam being drafted change anything in the future about the way gay athletes are treated professionally, or in amateur status, or will that be directly affected by whether he succeeds on the field?

“I think he’s provided a role model for a lot of young athletes. Hopefully, even for some older athletes who may have been considering coming out or not. Although, a lot are going to probably wait and see what happens with Sam, and say, ‘has he been given a fair chance,’ because when you look at the NFL, you’re average career is very short, like three and half years or so. It’s very tough to risk something like that when you know you can basically stay kind of hidden away and then live your life afterwards. So, hopefully Mike gets a chance and is treated well, and sets the stage for other guys to come out as well.”

To hear more of Kluwe’s interview with Thurn, listen below:

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*For comments or story ideas, email Sam at tastadsam@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter @samtastad.

Chris Kluwe, Minnesota Vikings
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

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