2013 NFL free agency: Why the Panthers are unlikely to sign Chris Kluwe

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The outspoken punter was released by the Minnesota Vikings today. Despite being the #1 NFL player I'd like to have a beer with, there are a lot of reasons why the Panthers wont be interested.

Dave Gettleman talked publicly about his desire to bring two kickers and two punters into Spartanburg. Competition increases everyone's game, and with both specialists struggling in 2012 it makes sense. On the surface freshly-cut Chris Kluwe would be the perfect veteran addition to press Brad Nortman and compete for the job, but his role in the public eye will likely turn off the team.

Lets make one thing abundantly clear: This has nothing to do with Kluwe's stance on gay marriage. In a few hours someone will do that, trying to force the narrative of discrimination -- but it's not the case. Far more likely is a widely held football belief that the less characters on a team the better, and when it comes to specialists it's better for them to be seen and not heard.

To distill Kluwe into one issue sells him short as a person, and shows a lack of awareness dating back more than a year. Yes, he's been outspoken on LGBT rights, and you may have seen him on the Colbert Report. However, he's also talked about the hypocrisy in the NFL's player safety memorandums, openly mocked Roger Goodell, and is quick to quip about his career. Moments after the Vikings selected punter Jeff Locke in the 5th round, Kluwe was making a very pointed reference (albeit, using the movie 'Dodgeball'):

Herein lies a rift between fan understanding, and management perspective. The former will look at a player's ability, history on the field, and remaining talent to try and project their addition to a team. To this end the 31-year-old Kluwe would be the perfect addition. However, the management perspective (for better or worse) is largely looking at a 53 man roster and treating 'character' as a commodity, something they can only afford to have too much on one team, and where specialists become the low men on the totem pole.

There is a double-standard in the NFL when it comes to how much notoriety a team will stomach out of a specialist. Guys like Sebastian Janikowski are a rarity for a reason, and Brad Wing went un-drafted for much the same -- in fact, it's a miracle in hindsight that Todd Sauerbrun lasted as long as he did in Charlotte.

Talent should trump all, and for that reason it would be great to see Chris Kluwe get a chance in Carolina. As a punter he'd be a much-needed addition to the roster, and unquestionably a talent upgrade. However, will Jerry Richardson sign off on a player whose criticisms of the NFL have been prodigious and loud? That makes it a far less likely prospect. It may not be the way things should be, but it's the way they are -- like it or not.

Chris, that beer offer stands. I'd love to talk about the end of Bioshock Infinite with you, and get some drybrush techniques.

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