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NFL draft leaves gay hopeful sidelined; ally Chris Kluwe ponders what’s next

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The National Football League on Saturday passed on its chance to draft the first openly gay athlete in professional football, while straight ally and gay rights advocate Chris Kluwe found himself pondering his future in the NFL.

Former Middle Tennessee State University placekicker Alan Gendreau, the leading scorer in Sun Belt Conference history, had hoped to make history as the first openly gay professional football player, but was left sidelined at Saturday’s NFL draft, when none of the league’s 30 teams took a chance on him.

Alan GendreauOutsports

Chris Kluwe

Gendreau, 23, was the subject of an extensive profile last week by Outsports.com, putting him in the media spotlight in the days leading up to the draft.

And while rumors persists that a current NFL player, or players, might soon “come out,” others speculated that the first openly gay athlete on a professional U.S. team would be someone like Gendreau, who ascends from the college ranks to the NFL, NBA, NHL or MLB.

But as the clock wound down during the final rounds of the NFL draft, only two kickers were chosen and Gendreau was not one of them.

“Just an FYI. I am NOT a part of the NFL draft. I am training right now with hopes of landing a tryout at a training camp in a couple months!” Gendreau tweeted on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe finds himself in a fight for his roster spot after the team used a fifth-round pick on UCLA’s Jeff Locke, perhaps paving the way for Kluwe’s exit after eight seasons in Minnesota.

In recent years, Kluwe has become an outspoken advocate for marriage equality and gay rights, a thorn in the side of the NFL establishment and a player who never subscribed the mantra “punters should be seen and not heard.”

“I’m hoping I get a chance to compete,” Kluwe said in a phone interview with the Associated Press. “If not, we all get cut eventually and I’ll just have to go and find another job.”

Kluwe, who is scheduled to make $1.45 million this year, said he thinks it would be a shame if he were to get cut because of his views, but said he wasn’t sure if that was factoring into any decision.

“It’s a shame that in a league with players given multiple second chances after arrests, including felony arrests, that speaking out on human rights has a chance of getting you cut,” Kluwe told NBC Sports on Sunday via text message.

Vikings general manager Rick Spielman insists Kluwe’s political leanings didn’t impact Minnesota’s draft haul.

Earlier this month, the Baltimore Ravens released reserve linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, also an outspoken champion of LGBT rights and marriage equality.

The following day, Ayanbadejo hinted that his advocacy for marriage equality and LGBT rights may have been one of the reasons he was cut from the team, according to a report by Newsday. Ayanbadejo quickly walked back the comment and said he did not believe his advocacy was a factor.

Associated Press contributed to this report.
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36 more reader comments:

  1. The NFL still has a long way to go.

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 6:27pm
  2. It’s why I don’t pay to watch NFL.

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 6:28pm
  3. Depends on stats. I mean idk how he did in the combine so I can’t say much. But if he had better stats than straight players who were picked ok then

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 6:30pm
  4. so all these years ?

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 6:30pm
  5. NFL needs to get over it! Sexual preference has nothing to do with his performance on the field

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 6:32pm
  6. Whatever. He wasn’t picked because he’s openly Gay. And the NFL is homophobic.

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 6:33pm
  7. He said himself he wasn’t part of the draft so I’m confused…

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 6:33pm
  8. i will now watch foot ball and go 4 his team

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 6:33pm
  9. Really how many NFL Players are Gay and in the Closet??????

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 6:34pm
  10. Waiting on a fascist organization like the NFL to break barriers; good luck with that.

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 6:34pm
  11. It’s too bad that the NFL is unwilling to follow the lead of the NHL, with regards to being LGBT friendly…

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 6:37pm
  12. Well that sucks!!! Stupid NFL!!! :P

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 6:38pm
  13. I find it hard to believe that the NFL did not pick someone who was the highest scorer in an entire conference’s history for any other reason that he is openly gay. I admire Alan Gendreau very much for taking the chance of having this happen to be true to himself, his LGBT community, and to the future gay football players he has paved a road for. I find football a disturbing and violent sport I prefer not to watch, but those who do love it — especially to play it — deserve just as much to love football and to love the person they love as anyone who fits into heternormative standards.

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 6:38pm
  14. NFL teams overlooked this guy for some of the morally corrupt guys from LSU….hum.

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 6:42pm
  15. Agree with Brian….more facts required

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 6:49pm
  16. He’s in a tough spot, to be the first one will be the hardest. After that, I think we’ll get things moving faster. Wishing him luck in his future…

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 6:54pm
  17. Hot damn! He’s sexy!

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 7:01pm
  18. Cfl

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 7:22pm
  19. NFL needs to lose it’s ANTI-TRUST Exemption.

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 7:27pm
  20. The NFL has a LONG way to go when it comes to actually considering others as human beings. I’m not surprised by this at all – and I’m not spending any $ when it comes to the NFL either – and shouldn’t we all consider that? Hurt ‘em where it counts – to them – in the pocketbook, purse, manbag…whatever they want to call it.

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 7:34pm
  21. Course they did, the macho pricks.

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 7:39pm
  22. still homophobic I see NFL

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 7:46pm
  23. Look, I’m a huge equality advocate, and I’m also a passionate football fan. Here’s the deal: the fact he didn’t get drafted has zero to do with his sexual orientation. He’s a kicker. A kicker from a small program in a minor conference, at that. NFL teams do not use their precious few draft picks for guys like that, be they straight or gay. When the NFL draft passes on a marquee quarterback or receiver from a top 25 program who is openly gay, you can call the NFL homophobic. This guy is not the right weather balloon. Not even close.

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 8:03pm
  24. What a shame!

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 8:06pm
  25. Chris Kluwe marry your friend!

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 8:33pm
  26. What is there to understand….? Even if he was the #1 draft pick to have come in the last 20 years…the fact that he will be sharing locker rooms and showers is enough to put the fear of god in even the most manly of men.

    What people seem to forget is that men live by being predatory. That simple. The act of sex for males is conquest, domination, and then penetration. The very thought of sharing the same shower room with someone who does to men what men do to their “bitches” (and you KNOW that’s how those NFL knuckle draggers view women)…..yeah. So no…I’m not surprised in the slightest.

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 8:56pm
  27. This is criminal on the part of the NFL. The NFL will pass up a talented football player because he’s gay, but the NFL will draft steroid using and dog fighting losers to play football. Now that’s sad and doesn’t say much about the league. The NFL needs to get with the times and realize that it’s not about being gay that wins the game it’s about how good your are and how hard you play.

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 9:35pm
  28. it doesn’t seem like you’re an equality advocate. You seem to be defending the NFL for black balling a gay football player. It doesn’t matter if he’s a kicker, quarterback, whatever or where ever he’s from. I guarantee that another kicker who is half as good was picked. You don’t know all the specifics. Also, the NFL has always been homophobic because they feel that they have to keep up the macho persona.

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 9:41pm
  29. i agree with you george…..it’s sad…..they should at least, have given him a REAL chance to see what he could do ON THE FIELD.

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 9:45pm
  30. showering with the other players has nothing to do with his performance on the field. You don’t know what his “type” of guy is. He’s made it this far in his football career and I’m pretty positive that he’s showered with other guys before. Your comments serve no good purpose as to why he was blackballed.

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 9:46pm
  31. “Blackballed”? You do realize that the draft is not the only way to get a contract, right?

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 10:17pm
  32. George, are you implying that an NFL team should have drafted him because he is gay? Because that seems wrong as well.
    And don’t say you “guarantee” someone half as good was picked. If you did any semblance of research, you’d know this wasn’t the case.
    I, too, dedicate my time, resources and vote for gay rights, as does my husband Sean. Just because he wasn’t picked in the draft doesn’t mean he won’t make it on a team.

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 10:23pm
  33. Shame!

    Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 11:28pm
  34. That’s an understatement if I’ve ever heard one.

    Posted on Monday, April 29, 2013 at 1:28am
  35. It’s no wonder I don’t like football.

    Posted on Monday, April 29, 2013 at 5:06am
  36. Posted on Monday, April 29, 2013 at 7:27am