No one is ever happy to see the punter.
When the punter takes the field, he might as well be wearing a white flag instead of a jersey. His mere presence is indicative of his team’s failure. Because of this the position of punter attracts some of the strangest and/or coolest characters in all of football. With the start of the 2012 NFL season just hours away, it’s time that we honor a few of these anonymous heroes of the almighty punt.
Chris-Motherfucking-Kluwe – Minnesota Vikings
Chirs Kluwe’s badassery this week alone justify this post’s existence. If you somehow haven’t heard, Chris Kluwe of the Vikings wrote the most spectacularly funny, erudite, vulgar and sensible letter to a homophobic politician in the entire history of letters to homophobic politicians. The letter was in response to Maryland state delgate Emmett Burns writing his own letter to the Baltimore Ravens politely asking them to censor their employee, Brendon Ayanbadejo, for having the audacity to voice his support for same-sex marriage. I’m hesitant to even pull out some of my favorite bits here as you should really be reading the whole thing but here’s just a taste:
I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won’t come into your house and steal your children. They won’t magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster. They won’t even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population—rights like Social Security benefits, child care tax credits, Family and Medical Leave to take care of loved ones, and COBRA healthcare for spouses and children. You know what having these rights will make gays? Full-fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails. Do the civil-rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you?
Man, that stuff is just gold. Athletes have been tentatively sticking their toes in the post-It Gets Better waters of marriage equality for a while now (including Ayanbadejo who is getting unfairly ignored in light of Kluwe’s bombast) but no one athlete has quite taken a dive into the deep end like Chris Kluwe.
And lest you think this is the first time that Kluwe has shaken the restraints of punter-dom to speak his mind, just take a gander at his previous decrees.
Just days before his the letter, Kluwe took the NFL to task on Twitter for the quality of the replacement referees, covering for the currently-striking usual refs. And during last year’s lockout, he even called out a few star NFL players, calling them “douchebags”, for holding out for more money while the minimum wagers in the NFL suffered.
This is a dude who is not afraid to piss off the enormous, angry men who want to tackle him on a weekly basis or the megalomaniacal commissioner who treats subordination within the league none-too-delicately.
How Kluwe managers to maneuver his right leg around his enormous testicles to punt a football is beyond me.
BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE: Kluwe played as a troll named Loate in World of Warcraft and was part of top-ranked U.S. guild called “The Flying Hellfish” for several years. He has a popular reddit account where he’ll stealthily troll threads about the NFL. And he’s the bassist in a band called Tripping Icarus because of course he is.
Chris Kluwe is so amazing that you are officially allowed to name your fantasy team something as stupid and inane as “Get a Kluwe” this year.
Brian Moorman – Buffalo Bills
Every fan base has a detached hipster-like ironic devotion to their punter. Loving a punter is one of the most “indie” things a football fan can do. My friends and I in college unabashedly loved our school’s punter, Paul Hershey, despite (or probably because) of his absolute averageness. But I have borne witness to one fanbase that truly, completely and unironically loves their punter like no other fanbase in the land. Buffalo Bills fans truly love Brian Moorman.
I was once at a Bills game where the Bills elected to fake a punt on fourth down. The snapped the ball to Brian Moorman who dashed 18 yarsd upfield for a first down in half a second like Usain Bolt. The euphoria of the stadium was unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed before. The Beatles could have played a concert on the 50-yard line and somehow killed Bin Laden at the same time and Bills fans still wouldn’t have lost their shit like they lost their shit for Brian Moorman’s 18-yard scamper.
The appeal of Brian Moorman and the reason he has a fan club called “Moorman’s Army” is that he’s the novelty of a stellar athlete who somehow ended up as “just a punter.” The guy somehow participated in the skills competition during the 2006 Pro Bowl which is almost exclusively reserved for wide receivers and cornerbacks or, you know, just anyone more athletic than a freaking punter. In the dark days of J.P. Losman and Trent Edwards, Bills fans often wished the coaching staff would just name Moorman the starting QB and get it over with.
Moorman is also noteworthy for playing college ball for something called the “Pitt State Gorillas,” which has to be a one-of-a-kind team nickname. Also, his wife wrote what sounds like a pretty sexy book.
Zoltan Mesko – New England Patriots
How could the punter who was called “The NFL’s Most Interesting Man” by the Wall Street Journal before he played a single game not make this post? That was a rhetorical question as he’s clearly on the list, so get off my back, Mr. and Mrs. Mesko. Simply put: Zoltan Mesko is an interesting dude and in a dead heat with Kluwe for the title of The Most Interesting Punter in the World (which is what WSJ should have called their article, in deference to this man.) Zoltan was born behind the Iron Curtain in Romania in 1986. He spent ten years ducking bullets from revolutionaries before his parents were able to emigrate to the U.S., first New York City, then Northeast Ohio. He didn’t even pick up football until high school where he promptly broke almost every imaginable Ohio record as a punter and kicker.
Mesko speaks five languages (Romanian, Hungarian, English, German and Spanish). He completed his Bachelor’s of Business Administration in finance and marketing at University of Michigan while somehow finding time to fit in his Masters in Sports Management as well. While Chris Kluwe was passive aggressively tweeting at Peyton Manning during the aforementioned 2011 lockout, Zoltan was interning as a private equity analyst with Graham Partners in Philadelphia.
His name is also the same as Hal Sparks character in “Dude, Where’s My Car?”
Most importantly, however, Zoltan was the most famous graduate of Twinsburg High School before a young writer from Loop usurped his position. To his credit though he reportedly did 300 hours of community service there, while I believe I did in the neighborhood of 18 and had my advisor bump it up to the required 40.
(Moorman Photo: Bleacher Report)
(Mesko Photo: Zoli’s Twitter)