NCAA

Vikings asst coach tiring of Kluwe's activism

Vikings asst coach tiring of Kluwe's activism

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe has made a name for himself as much for his willingness to take outspoken stands on issues that are important to him as he has for pinning opponents inside the 10-yard line.

He's been celebrated as a champion for gay rights, chastised for his willingness to challenge the NFL establishment and fined for altering his jersey to campaign for the Hall of Fame to enshrine its first punter.

It all appears to be wearing thin with his position coach. When asked about the $5,250 fine that Kluwe incurred for putting ``Vote Ray Guy'' over a patch on his jersey commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Vikings special teams coordinator delivered a sharp rebuke.

``I don't even want to talk about that,'' Mike Priefer said Thursday. ``Those distractions are getting old for me, to be quite honest with you. Do I think Ray Guy deserves to be in the Hall of Fame? Absolutely. But there's other ways of going about doing it, in my opinion.''

The Vikings have generally stood behind their renaissance man, rarely getting in the way when he has tried to use his platform to raise awareness to issues away from the field. Kluwe became an important and high-profile advocate for gay marriage during the election. He's also addressed what he sees as a problem the NFL has with drunken driving in the wake of Dallas Cowboys player Jerry Brown's death and criticized voters for not putting a punter into the hall.

With the Vikings (7-6) trying to chase a playoff spot in the final three games of the season, Priefer thinks it's time for Kluwe to cool it with the activism and concentrate on his job.

``To me, it's getting old,'' Priefer said. ``He's got to focus on punting and holding.''

The timing of Priefer's comments seem a little odd, given that Kluwe is coming off a stellar performance in a victory over the Chicago Bears. Facing dangerous returner Devin Hester, he averaged 45.7 yards on seven punts and twice pinned the Bears inside the 5-yard line.

Kluwe has always taken pride in not being defined by being a football player. He plays in a band, is a voracious reader and throws himself into civil rights discussions. So it's no surprise the pointed words from his coach were met with a shrug.

``All I can do is go out and punt to the best of my ability each game, and that's how I've always approached things,'' Kluwe wrote in an email to The Associated Press. ``If the team ever wants to replace me, they will; I'm under no delusions as to how this business operates. We all get cut eventually.''

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he has had conversations with Kluwe about buckling down as the games get more important.

``We've had some conversations, Chris and I,'' Frazier said. ``Right now he knows the focus has to be on the St. Louis Rams. He's assured me that's where his focus is and we just have to keep moving forward.''

At least one person is thankful that Kluwe has been willing to speak up.

Tracy Call, a Minneapolis advertising executive, helped recruit Kluwe into activism against a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage that Minnesota voters defeated last month. She formed a political group - Minnesotans for Equality - that paid to air a radio commercial where Kluwe urged defeat of the amendment.

``Chris always made it very clear there were times when we could not contact him, including Saturdays and game days,'' Call said. ``When he was on the field, his mind was on the field. He's very focused and I think it's ridiculous to think otherwise just because he expresses opinions.''

Call gave Kluwe huge credit for helping defeat the amendment.

``His message really hit home for a lot of people, a lot of people in the middle who didn't ever tune in on this issue before,'' Call said. ``Frankly, I think we should have a parade for him.''

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Associated Press Writer Pat Condon, in St. Paul, contributed to this story.

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Follow Jon Krawczynski on Twitter:http://twittter.com/APKrawczynski

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How to Watch Virginia vs. Old Dominion: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream

How to Watch Virginia vs. Old Dominion: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream

Old Dominion coach Bobby Wilder was looking forward to catching Virginia in a more vulnerable state when the Monarchs added the Cavaliers to their schedule.

"I was really hoping when we scheduled this game three years ago that they wouldn't be this good if I'm being 100% truthful," Wilder said earlier this week about ODU's game Saturday night at No. 21 Virginia. "But I've been upstairs all morning studying them. They are a really good football team."

The Monarchs face an uphill battle to make headlines with an upset of the Cavaliers.

Virginia (3-0) is looking for its best start since 2004 when the Cavaliers won their first five games of the season. The Monarchs (1-1), in just their 11st season since reinstituting the football program, are coming of a 31-17 loss at Virginia Tech two weeks ago.

An early bye may have allowed ODU to prepare a few surprises for Virginia, but Wilder isn't sure.

"I think they are a complete football team," Wilder said, "and what I mean by that is they are solid in all aspects."

The Cavaliers are coming off a 31-24 victory against Florida State in a game they trailed for much of the contest. But Virginia fans were out in force for the matchup. The crowd -- 57,826 -- was the largest for the Cavaliers at home since Notre Dame visited to start the 2015 season.

"I was thrilled with the attendance and the support we received in our stadium," coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "Clearly made a difference for our team."

Virginia vs. Old Dominion Week 4:

Who: Virginia Cavaliers (3-0) vs. Old Dominion Monarchs (1-1)

What: Week 4 of the 2019 college football regular season

When: Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, noon ET

Where: Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, Virginia

TV Channel: ESPN2

Live Stream: WatchESPN 

Radio: Virginia Sports Online or ODU Sports Radio Network

Point Spread: -28

Over/Under: 46

Weather: 88 degrees, sunny

Virginia 2019 season schedule:

Week 1: Saturday, Aug. 31, Virginia vs. Pittsburgh (30-14, W)

Week 2: Friday, Sept. 6, Virginia vs. William & Mary (52-17, W)

Week 3: Saturday, Sept. 14, Virginia vs. Florida State (31-24, W)

Week 4: Saturday, Sept. 21, Virginia vs. Old Dominion, 7:00 p.m.

Week 5: Saturday, Sept. 28, Virginia vs. Notre Dame, 3:30 p.m.

Week 6: BYE

Week 7: Friday, Oct. 11, Virginia vs. Miami, 8:00 p.m.

Week 8: Saturday, Oct. 19, Virginia vs. Duke, TBA

Week 9: Saturday, Oct. 26, Virginia vs. Louisville, TBA

Week 10: Saturday, Nov. 2, Virginia vs. North Carolina, TBA

Week 11: Saturday, Nov. 9, Virginia vs. Georgia Tech, TBA

Week 12: BYE

Week 13: Saturday, Nov. 23, Virginia vs. Liberty, TBA

Week 14: Friday, Nov. 29, Virginia vs. Virginia Tech, TBA

Associated Press assisted in the contribution of this story.

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Patriots release controversial WR Antonio Brown after just 11 days

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Patriots release controversial WR Antonio Brown after just 11 days

The Antonio Brown Era in New England is over.

Brown, one of the most prolific wide receivers to ever play in the NFL, was released by the Patriots Friday afternoon, just 11 days after signing with the team.

Shortly after his release from the Raiders, which preceded his signing in New England, reports surfaced of sexual assault allegations being levied at Brown. The receiver was facing charges of rape from a former trainer, and it was initially unclear how much the Patriots knew about prior to his signing.

Brown did end up playing in Week 2, his first opportunity with the Patriots, in Miami. He caught four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown, in addition to rushing the ball once for a five-yard gain.

Late Thursday night, additional reports surfaced of intimidating texts sent by Brown to someone involved in his court case. Less than a day later, the receiver tweeted a farewell to his now former team.

Minutes later, the Patriots announced they had parted ways with Brown. 

The team released the following statement: “The New England Patriots are releasing Antonio Brown. We appreciate the hard work of many people over the past 11 days, but we feel that it is best to move in a different direction at this time.”

The investigation into the sexual assault allegations against Brown remains ongoing at this time.

The Redskins will host the Patriots in Week 5 of the 2019 NFL season.

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