Chris Kluwe willing to pay price to deliver message to Hall of Fame
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MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Vikings wore patches on their jerseys Sunday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
At least the Vikings, and other teams around the league, were supposed to wear them.
Punter Chris Kluwe, upon learning the patch would be on his jersey Sunday morning, made an executive decision to alter the message. Kluwe, who has never shied away from controversy, got some athletic tape, covered the patch on his uniform and made a statement.
"Vote for Ray Guy," was the message on the front of Kluwe's jersey.
Kluwe's decision was generated by the fact that no punter ever has been selected to the Hall of Fame and, in Kluwe's opinion, Guy is the person who deserves to be inducted into Canton. Guy was the first and only punter to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft.
That happened in 1973 when Oakland took him. Guy, who led the NFL in punting three times and averaged 42.4 yards (33.8 net), retired in 1986. He was named to the AFC Pro Bowl team seven times and was selected as the punter on the NFL's 75th anniversary team in 1994.
Kluwe acknowledged after the Vikings' 21-14 victory over Chicago on Sunday that he will be fined by the NFL for a uniform violation but that doesn't bother him.
"Of course, I'm going to get fined," he said. "For me it's hard to support a Hall of Fame that doesn't recognize punters. If you took a kid into the Hall of Fame and that was the only thing they knew about football, they would have no idea that punters even played the game. Why am I going to support a Hall of Fame that does that? So, vote Ray Guy."
Kluwe said he never has been fined before by the NFL for a uniform violation so he expects to have to write a check for about $5,000 to the league. The minimum fine for such an offense under the collective bargaining agreement is $5,250.
Kluwe said that he didn't think Vikings coach Leslie Frazier or anyone else with the team even noticed that he put the message on his uniform. Kluwe's "work" did get attention because Fox showed a shot of it during the telecast.
"It actually is a very serious matter because you look at it and the way the selection process is set up right now it's highly unlikely that a punter will ever get into the Hall of Fame," Kluwe said. "To me if you're going to be the gate keepers to what the game is about and you refuse to recognize a facet of the game you're not doing your job. You are failing at your job.
"Whether it's voting the punter in or changing the selection process, something has to be done because you've got coaches, administrators, people who have never even played the game that are in the Hall of Fame. And you're saying guys that actually went out there and played, they can't be in? That's kind of bogus."
Kluwe said he has met Guy once, but it wouldn't be surprising if he got a thank you phone call from Guy at some point.
Guy told Yahoo! Sports this year that he isn't happy a punter isn't in the Hall.
"I watch (today's punters) and in the back of my mind, I (say to myself) that you're wasting your time because we've got some stupid people that don't understand," Guy said. "Here's a kid who's got a dream of being a punter in the NFL, but you got people (selecting for the Hall of Fame) who cut him down before they even get out of the chute. So, what are you telling these kids? To forget about it?"