Vikings' patience with Chris Kluwe appears to be wearing thin
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- NFL executives weren't the only ones who failed to find anything amusing with Chris Kluwe's decision last Sunday to cover a Hall of Fame patch on his jersey with a makeshift "Vote for Ray Guy" message.
A day after it was learned the Minnesota Vikings punter had been fined $5,250 by the league for his uniform violation, special teams coordinator Mike Priefer expressed his disappointment with Kluwe.
"I don't even walk to talk about that," Priefer said Thursday when asked about Kluwe. "Those distractions are getting old for me to be quite honest with you. Do I think Ray Guy deserves to be in the Hall of Fame? Absolutely. But there's other ways of going about doing it in my opinion."
Priefer's reaction was interesting because he's normally very good-natured during his weekly chat with the media each Thursday.
Kluwe clearly has tried Priefer's patience.
Earlier this season, Priefer had to answer questions for several weeks about how Kluwe's outspoken support against the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage might be impacting his performance on the football field.
"It's getting old," Priefer said. "He's got to focus on punting and holding."
Kluwe will be entering the final season of a seven-year contract in 2013 and is due to make $1.4 million. However, if the Vikings' level of frustration is high enough with Kluwe, it wouldn't be out of the question that they could let him go and look elsewhere for a punter.
Kluwe found himself in trouble this week after his latest decision to protest the fact no punters are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Guy led the NFL in punting three times and averaged 42.4 yards (33.8 net) during a career that began in Oakland in 1973 and ended 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 said when he saw the patch on his jersey celebrating the Hall of Fame's 50th anniversary last Sunday morning he decided he would alter it by using athletic tape.
"For me it's hard to support a Hall of Fame that doesn't recognize punters," Kluwe said after the Vikings beat the Bears. "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."
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Thursday that he has met with Kluwe at times this season to discuss the punter's focus, or lack of it. Frazier said Kluwe has assured him that his focus this week is on Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams.
Kluwe is 22nd in the NFL with an average of 39.6 yards per punt; his net average is the same as his gross and ranks 16th in the league.
"I think it's important for all of our players to concentrate on what we're trying to get done," Frazier said Thursday. "There's nothing bigger than this game against St. Louis this week, and I'm sure Chris' focus is where it should be. He knows he has to focus on the Rams, just like all our other players do. That's where all of our focus has to be."
Priefer, meanwhile, made it clear he hadn't had any long conversations with Kluwe about the situation.
"No, he don't listen," Priefer said.