The narrative in the story of Chris Kluwe vs. the Vikings has shifted somewhat to a cross-examination of Kluwe and a section of the report summary released last week that involved the former punter tearing a hole in his shorts and making a joke about former Penn State assistant Jerry Sandusky in front of Vikings conditioning coach Tom Kanavy (a Penn State alum).
To us, this represents an interesting dynamic in the whistle-blowing from Kluwe, since it could be viewed that he loses ground as the arbiter of right and wrong in his accusations against Mike Priefer when it becomes known that he, too, can act in such poor taste.
On the other hand, this is a completely separate issue from anything Priefer did or didn’t do — and shouldn’t cloud the picture when it comes to the overall question of the culture that permeated the Vikings.
Kluwe recognizes as much, but he also still can’t appear to get out of his own way when it comes to the Penn State issue, which he does not deny. Given a chance to flat-out apologize for it because it was in poor taste — cutting a hole in your shorts and portraying yourself as a victim of child abuse is 100 percent in poor taste, regardless of how you try to frame the intent of the joke — Kluwe got about halfway there in an interview with SI Now before attempting to ascend back to a position of higher moral ground. Per SI:
“I realize that a lot of people found my joke in poor taste, which I’m sure was the entire purpose of the Vikings leaking it. Character assassination is a tried-and-true tactic for any sort of harassment lawsuit. But it’s something where I was making fun of the culture at Penn State, and if it offended people, then I apologize. I’m sorry for that.”
Nope. That’s not an apology. That’s a half-apology, sorry if you took it the wrong way apology, which is the worst kind. He continued:
“But to make it seem like I was making fun of victims of child abuse, I mean, that is horrific. And really that kind of upsets me from a personal perspective, that the Vikings would try and spin it that way, because that’s insulting.”
Stop. Kluwe is clearly a smart guy. We’ve talked to him on multiple occasions and found him thoughtful, engaging and obviously well-spoken when it comes to putting thoughts together. We are also not numb to the idea that words or actions in private can take on a different, darker tenor than what we say or do publicly. If 100 percent of everything we ever said was part of a long official record, most of us would be in trouble.
But this Penn State “joke” is not a subjective matter any more than Priefer’s alleged “nuke the gays” comment is.
They are still two different issues, and we should do our best to separate out Kluwe’s holier-than-thou half-apology from the heart of the matter, but he didn’t do himself any favors in that interview.