Chris Kluwe kicks up debate

MICHAEL RIETMULDER | Updated 11/1/2012

The outspoken Vikings punter talks gaming, music and his opposition to the Minnesota marriage amendment.

NFL punters don't typically attract a lot of attention. But Chris Kluwe isn't your boilerplate pigskin booter.

The Vikings' long-legged specialist is a nerd-culture hero, equally respected in "World of Warcraft" circles and locker rooms filled with guys who might have pummeled his geeky people in adolescence. Kluwe, who also plays bass in the local rock band Tripping Icarus and appears regularly on the 93X Half-Assed Morning Show, bolstered his local celebrity status when he took his opinionated antics to Twitter. Now an All-Pro tweeter, the 30-year-old Kluwe isn't afraid to make feather-ruffling quips regarding both on- and off-field issues.

Recently, the outspoken kicker has garnered national media attention by very publicly opposing Minnesota's proposed constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage. After Maryland legislator Emmett C. Burns, Jr., called on the Baltimore Ravens to silence linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who has openly supported an amendment that would legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland, Kluwe took to his fellow footballer's defense. In a colorful letter published by the Huffington Post, Kluwe assured Burns that allowing gay marriage would not turn him into a "lustful cockmonster," a term which now lives in infamy.

Kluwe has since been featured in anti-amendment commercials, and publicly exchanged words with former Viking Matt Birk. His band is slated to play night two of Minnesotans for Equality's "MN Musicians Vote No!" benefit concert this Saturday night at the Triple Rock. Kluwe even challenged local amendment supporters to a debate at Brave New Workshop last Friday -- but since no one took him up the offer, the punter appeared anyway, making his arguments to an empty chair, Clint Eastwood-style.

Last week we stopped by the Savage home of the controversial kicker -- whom the New York Times recently labeled "the most interesting man in the NFL" -- to talk about gaming, his shirtless photos in a GLBT mag and of course, lustful cockmonsters.

Q: You're renowned in two wildly different arenas: gaming and football. How did this happen?

A: I've always been a gamer. My parents got me a Nintendo Entertainment System when I was 5 or 6 and I was instantly hooked. My parents were also insistent that I play sports, because they didn't want me sitting around the house all day. Originally I played soccer and baseball growing up and then played football in high school because I needed a fall sport. I figured I could kick the ball pretty far in soccer so I tried out as a kicker and punter in football. I went to a couple kicking camps and the instructor said if you work hard at this you can most likely get a college scholarship and you probably have a chance to play in the NFL. I was like, "Well that sounds like the greatest job ever. I think I will practice."

Q: Which gives you the bigger rush: pinning an opponent inside the 5-yard line or racking up dragon kill points in "World of Warcraft?"

A: [laughs] It depends. It's always fun to play football in front of a crowd and to perform well. But it's also fun to be the server first downing Illidan or conquering a boss or a particularly tricky challenge.

Q: How do those compare to a roaring Tripping Icarus crowd?

A: A roaring Tripping Icarus crowd is also a lot of fun. It's a completely different kind of rush than being on a football field. On the field, fans are 60-70 yards away from you, but when you're on stage in front of a group of people they're right there and when fans start getting into your music it's a really cool thing to see because you feed off that energy, that emotion.