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Updated: October 31st, 2012 12:54pm
Chris Kluwe says activism isn't hurting focus on 'children's game'

Chris Kluwe says activism isn't hurting focus on 'children's game'

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Chris Kluwe says he wasn't offended the Minnesota Vikings worked out another punter this week and doesn't believe his off-field interests are impacting his performance.

"That's the way the NFL is run," Kluwe said on Wednesday, one day after the Vikings reportedly worked out free-agent punter Brian Stahovich.

"It's nothing personal. If they feel I'm not performing my job, then they'll try and find someone who can. I just approach each week the same way, that I'm going to go out, try and do the best job possible, and the way I've always approached this job is I will be cut if I don't perform."

Kluwe ranks 26th in the NFL this season with a gross average of 43.8 yards per punt and 18th with a net average of 39.9 yards -- not far off his career averages of 44.3 gross and 37.1 net. But the eight-year veteran has struggled with consistency.

He heard boos from the Metrodome crowd after shanking a 20-yard punt out of bounds in the Vikings' loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday. The Buccaneers turned it into a field goal and never relinquished the lead.

"The main problem is the fact you can't have a 20-yard punt in the first quarter on a long field against a team and give them momentum like that," Kluwe said. "That can't happen in the NFL, because what it does it that gives Tampa Bay a chance to drive down and score and that puts us in a tough position."

Kluwe, 30, said the issue is "just going too fast and not letting myself get situated with my drop. That leads to an inconsistent drop and just not hitting the ball well. So, I've go to try to slow myself down, not rush myself and then just hit the ball the way I know how to hit it."

He laughed off the notion his off-field interests -- most notable, a high-profile stance against an amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota -- have anything to do with his performance but acknowledged he has received plenty of Twitter messages telling him to stick to football.

"Generally I just ignore them," Kluwe said. "I read all of them, but I don't really think about them. The funny thing is if you look at that argument, the basic foundation of that argument, it's that, 'Why don't you worry more about a children's game than basic human rights?' And yeah, I'm going to generally go with the basic human rights on that issue."

Kluwe is making $1.3 million in base salary this season. The seven-year, $8.7 million contract extension he signed in October 2007 expires after next season, when he's due $1.4 million in base salary plus a $50,000 workout bonus.

Coach Leslie Frazier gave Kluwe a vote of confidence, saying "he'll get through this" and pointing out the Vikings have worked out linemen and defensive backs in recent weeks, too.

Asked if Kluwe's political activism is a factor in his performance, Frazier said, "Chris is a pro. He's been able to deal with so many things in his career. He's able to focus in these situations and focus on the task at hand and has been a very good punter, which he is.

"I don't think anything off the field is distracting him. He knows how to focus on his job, and I fully expect him to have a big game for us on Sunday."

Stahovich, 22, punted at San Diego State from 2008 to 2011 and there was some thought he might be selected in the NFL draft last April.

He was an All-Mountain West Conference selection who averaged 43.4 yards in 2011. More than a quarter of his punts were 50 yards or greater. After not being selected, Stahovich signed with the Colts, who cut him in late August.

Judd Zulgad contributed.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
In this story: Leslie Frazier, Chris Kluwe
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