At a time when people are being asked to take a position on the question of legalizing gay marriage, former Vikings Chris Kluwe was a flashpoint of the conversation. Kluwe didn't have a dog in that fight – he is a heterosexual married man with a child. He took the human rights approach to the argument – discrimination against any group is an affront to the group as a whole.
It was a well-thought out opinion that was formulated from strong convictions.
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has had his share of headline-making comments in his own right. When he compared the NFL to slavery a couple of years ago, it opened a social media Pandora's box. When prime-time athletes speak, people listen.
So it was on Thursday when Adrian Peterson appeared on Sirius XM NFL Radio. Being interviewed by Amani Toomer and Bruce Murray, the topic came around to same-sex marriage. Using an approach similar to how he approaches defenders – he takes them head on – Peterson could have easily ducked the question and side-stepped.
Peterson, expressing a conviction just as strong as that of Kluwe's – and, at its heart, not entirely different – said that he personally isn't open to the question of same-sex marriage, but won't come out strongly against it. Much like other hot-button topics such as abortion – it may be spiritually reprehensible to his own sensibilities, he doesn't feel he can speak for those who feel strongly with a differing opinion.
"To each his own, (but) I'm not with it," Peterson said. "I have relatives that are gay. I'm not biased towards them. I still treat them the same. I love them. But, again, I'm not with that. That's not something I believe in. But to each his own."
While Peterson and Kluwe had differing views on that topic, there's nothing unusual about that in an NFL locker room. When Barack Obama was running against John McCain, the locker room was divided on their political views, but those issues had nothing to do with being teammates. Every player has his own tastes, opinions, beliefs and causes he feels personally strong about. It's our differences that make us unique. Kluwe and Peterson were on different ends of the spectrum on the same-sex marriage question, but it didn't get in the way of them being teammates and friends.
"It hurt me to see him leave," Peterson said. "He was a good friend of mine and a really cool guy – probably one of the smartest guys I've ever been around. (He's) different."
As to the question of whether Kluwe was cut as the result of his outspoken views, Peterson didn't say he believed that was the reason – all signs point to Jeff Locke being the punting version of the overall upgrade the Vikings got at kicker when Blair Walsh replaced Ryan Longwell and set franchise records for success in his rookie season. But Peterson did say that Kluwe's foray into becoming the NFL poster boy for the topic wasn't the first time he has ruffled some feathers as the result of his beliefs.
"I'm sure the Vikings organization didn't release him based on that," Peterson said. "They know Kluwe. They've been knowing him for a long time. They know he's outspoken."
Peterson and Kluwe have very different opinions on the topic of same sex marriage. Whether Kluwe's outspoken nature was the reason for his release is a secret those who made the decision will likely take to the grave, especially if it was. Publicly, the hard line is that the NFL is a game of competition and nobody's job is safe. The fact Kluwe wasn't allowed to compete with Locke for the job is irrelevant to the conversation – at least from the organizational perspective.
Is it possible for two people to be polar opposites on the same topic and both have the merits to their argument to be viewed as being right in their beliefs? Kluwe and Peterson have shown that it is possible.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Peterson ‘not with' gay marriage
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