September 2012, Week 2


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Sat, 8 Sep 2012 16:14:37 -0400
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Edge of Sports

Chris Kluwe and the Greatest Political Statement by
Any Athlete Ever

By Dave Zirin

September 8, 2012

Speaking out always holds the risk of a backlash:
especially for pro athletes and especially when
standing up for LGBT equality. The Baltimore
Ravens Brendan Ayanbadejo experienced that
reality this week. For years, the 36-year-old
Ayanbadejo has been outspoken in support of
Marriage Equality and LGBT rights. Now,
Ayanbadejo is publicly supporting a November
ballot initiative for Maryland to join the states that
recognize Same-Sex marriage. This was too much
for Baltimore County state delegate Emmett Burns.
Burns, a Democrat, sent a formal letter to Ravens
team owner Steve Biscotti writing among other
things, "I find it inconceivable that one of your
players, Mr. Brendon Ayanbadejo would publicly
endorse Same-Sex marriage, specifically as a Raven
Football player ... I believe Mr. Ayanbadejo should
concentrate on football and steer clear of dividing
the fan base." Then Burns went even farther and
requested that Biscotti,  "... take the necessary
action, as a National Football League Owner, to
inhibit such expressions from your employees and
that he be ordered to cease and desist such
injurious actions. I know of no other NFL player who
has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing." Yes you
read that correctly. Burns is calling on Ayanbadejo's
boss to coerce him to shut up.

It"s worth noting that this last statement just isn"t
true. Players such as Scott Fujita, NFL Hall of Famer
Michael Irvin, the San Francisco 49ers team, and
even Sports Illustrated NFL preview coverboy Rob
Gronkowski have all spoken out for LGBT rights.
Ayanbadejo responded to Burns forcefully,
defending his own freedom of expression and then
saying to USA Today, "Its an equality issue. I see the
big picture. There was a time when women didn't
have rights. Black people didn't have rights. Right
now, gay rights is a big issue and it's been for a long
time. We're slowly chopping down the barriers to

But the greatest response to Burns and perhaps to
anything in the history of everything was made by
Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe. Kluwe also
happens to believe in LGBT rights as well as the
rights of athletes to be able to speak their mind. The
punter sat down at his computer and produced the
greatest political statement by any athlete ever ...or
at least since Muhammad Ali told the US
Government that "the real enemy of my people is
here."  Perhaps that's hyperbole. Certainly it"s
arguable. But what's undeniable is the greatness of
Kluwe's rant. I quote my favorite parts below but I
strongly encourage people to read it in it's entirety
here at deadspin. Warning that it's brilliantly
profane, or profanely brilliant, so you might not
want to print it out at work and leave it lying
around. Then again, if you work in a place with NFL
fans prone to homophobic slurs, you might want to
leave it everywhere.

Kluwe begins by calling out Burns for his "vitriolic
hatred and bigotry." He then schools Burns on the
consitution, the first amendment, and the history of
racism and segregation in the NFL, But the coup de
grace was his defense of LGBT equality.

Kluwe writes, "I can assure you that gay people
getting married will have zero effect on your life.
They won't come into your house and steal your
children. They won't magically turn you into a
lustful c--kmonster. They won't even overthrow the
government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery
because all of a sudden they have the same legal
rights as the other 90 percent of our
population - rights like Social Security benefits,
child care tax credits, Family and Medical Leave to
take care of loved ones, and COBRA healthcare for
spouses and children. You know what having these
rights will make gays? Full-fledged American
citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to
pursue happiness and all that entails. Do the civil-
rights struggles of the past 200 years mean
absolutely nothing to you? In closing, I would like to
say that I hope this letter, in some small way,
causes you to reflect upon the magnitude of the
colossal foot in mouth clusterf-ck you so brazenly
unleashed on a man whose only crime was speaking
out for something he believed in. Best of luck in the
next election; I'm fairly certain you might need it.

Sincerely, Chris Kluwe"

Kluwe then ends by writing, "P.S. I've also been
vocal as hell about the issue of gay marriage so you
can take your 'I know of no other NFL player who
has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing' and shove
it in your close-minded, totally lacking in empathy
piehole and choke on it. A--hole." For the first time
in football history, a punter is truly leading the way.
Thank you Chis Kluwe, for the greatest political
statement made by any athlete in decades. The fact
that it happens to be about LGBT rights only shows
how far we've traveled, in the streets and in the
locker rooms

[Dave Zirin is the author of "The John Carlos Story"
(Haymarket). Receive his column every week by
emailing [log in to unmask] Contact him at
[log in to unmask]]


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