Minnesota Vikings superstar running back Adrian Peterson is sorry that punter Chris Kluwe is no longer with the team. But he does not think Kluwe was cut for his gay rights activism and will miss him, even if he disagrees with him on the issue. Peterson was interviewed by Bruce Murray and Amani Tomer on Sirius/XM NFL Radio about Kluwe (Listen here. The gay comments come at the 13-minute mark):
"You say he came out for gay marriage?" Peterson said. "To each his own. I’m not with it. But I have relatives that are gay. I’m not biased towards them. I still treat them the same. I love 'em. But again, I’m not with that. That’s not something I believe in. But to each his own.
"I'm sure the Vikings organization did not release him based on that. They know Kluwe. They've been knowing him for a long time. They know he's outspoken. It hurt me to see him leave. He was a good friend of mine and a really cool guy, man. Probably one of the smartest guys I've ever been around, man. ... Different."
The oddest part of the interview is that Peterson seems surprised Kluwe had a position on gay marriage (he replied in the form of a question with a laugh at the end). Given how prominent the gay marriage debate was in Minnesota last fall and how much attention Kluwe got on the issue, it's hard to believe that Peterson was unaware. He must have amazing tunnel vision.
I asked Brad Michael of Minnesotans for Equality, which successfully defeated an anti-gay marriage amendment last year, for comment on Peterson:
"For me I like that the conversation continues on this topic. Years ago nobody would have touched it now, thanks to folks like Kluwe it is being discussed in the sports world in a big way.
"The thing I take away from AP's comments are that he says he has gay relatives and that he loves them and treats them the same. There will always be those that don't totally agree but in the end all we can ask is that they treat everyone with respect. I am comfortable with his comments. Not everyone is going to agree 100% but the fact that he knows gay people and still loves and treats them the same is a positive step. There is far more positive to take from his comments than there are negative I think."
Hmmm, would Michael's feeling change if Peterson was a Packer? Kidding, but what Peterson says echoes what other religious athletes are saying recently about gays. Is this a sign of acceptance and a change in attitudes, or just homophobia disguised in a nicer face? I think it's the former but would love readers to weigh in.