So Chris Kluwe now believes he "may have been a little too harsh originally" in his desire to end the coaching career of Minnesota Vikings special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer. I agree, but fear the sentiment is too late to make a difference.
As you know by now, Kluwe posted an article on Deadspin last week quoting Priefer saying, "we should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows." Kluwe called Priefer a "bigot" and added: "If there's one thing I hope to achieve from sharing this story, it's to make sure that Mike Priefer never holds a coaching position again in the NFL, and ideally never coaches at any level."
But in an appearance Tuesday night on Fox Sports Live, Kluwe admitted that "upon reflection," he might have overdone it. He stood by his allegations, but said he hopes Priefer can undergo therapy and counseling and then be a role model for change once he resumes coaching.
Certainly, redemption is a more positive and powerful lesson than punishment. The problem, of course, is that Kluwe can't be the gatekeeper of Priefer's career.
Kluwe has already unleashed the full brunt of his power by publicizing what he alleges to be Priefer's comments. He has no power over its consequences -- namely, whether anyone will hire Priefer again. His attempt to leverage Priefer into advocacy might well be a positive result for gay rights, but it won't do much to enhance the career implications of Kluwe's initial allegations.
As a result of Kluwe's initial story, Priefer is and will forever be the alleged homophobic assistant coach in the eyes of any NFL owner asked to sign off on his hiring. Nothing Kluwe said Tuesday night can change the impact of the original decision to make the allegations. We might like to think that Priefer can rehabilitate himself and his image, but you wonder if his contributions are essential enough for an image-conscious owner to be willing to hire him.
One way or the other, the damage is done here. Kluwe has walked back some of the vengeance he seemed intent on inflicting, which is nice. Will that help Priefer get a job? Let's put it this way: His chances are unaffected.