Chris Kluwe: Calling Gay Football Player A ‘Distraction’ Is Code For Intolerance

February 11, 2014 8:18 a.m.

Former NFL punter Chris Kluwe said Monday that the anonymous league executives bashing college football player Michael Sam for coming out as gay are masking their own intolerance by calling him a “distraction.”

“One thing I thought was really interesting was the very word ‘distraction,'” Kluwe said in an interview with the Huffington Post. “You see that used a lot by the front office and coaching. It’s very similar to how the word ‘thug’ was used when Richard Sherman was the topic of conversation. It seems that this word distraction is code for, I don’t really like the idea of a gay player on my team, but I know I can’t come out and say that, so I’ll use the word ‘distraction’ instead.”

Seattle Seahawks player Richard Sherman attracted insults like “thug” last month when he went on a post-game rant against an opponent. He later said the negative reaction bothered him because he viewed “thug” as an “accepted way of calling somebody the N-word.”

Kluwe, an outspoken LGBT ally himself who alleged last month that his activism for same-sex marriage led to his release from the Minnesota Vikings, told the Huffington Post it would be difficult for Sam to prove if he was being discriminated against in the NFL draft because of his sexual orientation.

“Most of them are smart enough not to put anything down in writing where you have an email chain or something like that,” he said. “It would just be, ‘Hey, this guy could be considered a distraction.’ Or, ‘Have you heard about this Michael Sam kid? Is his character there?’ It’s very much code-word type stuff.”

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