ESPN writer Kevin Seifert recently described Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe this way: "Kluwe would fit in perfectly in a group of impossibly smart California mensas who spend half their time working out and (most of) the rest playing video games." Which leads us to believe Kluwe's either the nerdiest player in the NFL, and/or the most athletic nerd in history.
We've invited Kluwe to play a game called "Eureka! I have found it!" Three questions about the 2012 Ig Nobel prizes, which honor some of the more ridiculous breakthroughs in science.
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PETER GROSZ, HOST:
And now the part of show, where people who have accomplished great things are asked to accomplish one more thing. An ESPN writer said of our guest, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, quote, "He would fit in perfectly in a group of impossibly smart California mensas who spend half their time working out and most of the rest of their time playing video games." So he is either the nerdiest player in the NFL or the most athletic nerd in history.
GROSZ: Chris Kluwe, please, welcome to WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!
CHRIS KLUWE: Thank you, thank you.
GROSZ: So, Chris, we have to ask you, you're kind of this punter who has made punting kind of cool. How do you feel about that?
KLUWE: Well, it's more for, you know, what I've written and done in video games. And hopefully at some point, you know, I'll get recognition for actually punting the football.
BRIAN BABYLON: Can I cut in with a quick question?
GROSZ: Please do.
BABYLON: Because I always wondered, when you're a punter, when you go out there, by definition your fans are disappointed.
GROSZ: Right, because the...
BABYLON: Is that like weird? Everybody's like yay, our punter's here.
GROSZ: We're giving up the ball.
BABYLON: No, but he can say today if he punts it right on the corner of the two-yard line and then he's the hero.
ADAM FELBER: Right, he can make things less bad.
KLUWE: Unless, of course, you're punting to Devin Hester, who will then take that ball and run it 90 yards.
BABYLON: There you go.
KLUWE: Full disclosure, that actually did happen to me in a game. He took it and...
GROSZ: Has it only happened once? I mean, you're lucky that you've only had it happen to you once. Is there a punter personality? Like, you know there's a bass player personality. Is there a punter personality?
KLUWE: It's very similar to the bass player personality where you're in the back.
KLUWE: No one ever notices you.
GROSZ: You're in a band, right?
KLUWE: I am. I am in a band called Tripping Icarus.
GROSZ: Yes. And tell us what instrument you do play.
KLUWE: I play the bass.
GROSZ: So last year, the Vikings, the team that you're on, picked up Donovan McNabb. McNabb had worn the number 5 for his whole career and you've been wearing number 5 for your whole career. And whenever two guys with the same number wind up on the same team, that can cause some friction. Is that correct? What happened in your situation?
KLUWE: Well, normally it's settled with a duel to the death with pistols at dawn.
KLUWE: But we figured the team would probably need both of us. So I made a deal where if he mentioned my band's name five times in press conferences and gave me an ice cream cone, then he could have it.
GROSZ: So how did he manage to work the name Tripping Icarus five times at the press conferences? Into separate press conferences or...
KLUWE: It was supposed to be separate press conferences, but in his very first press conference, he mentioned it like 12 times.
FELBER: Did you guys have like a million people at your next show?
KLUWE: No, no, we had like...
FELBER: You should take your bass to the stadium with you. Have you ever done that?
KLUWE: My ultimate goal is to play in the Super Bowl then do the Super Bowl halftime show.
GROSZ: That would be amazing.
FELBER: Also, when the ball changes possession, you could do like Seinfeld like segues.
FELBER: Because football doesn't have enough segues, music wise.
GROSZ: Speaking of comedy and slapstick and football, tell us about your thoughts about the real referees returning to the field. Are you breathing a huge sigh of relief, or were you enjoying some of the hilarious Keystone Cops adventures of these replacement refs?
KLUWE: Well, it definitely gave us something to talk about each week, because it was like "all right, what are they going to do this time?" I personally thought they wouldn't be able to top five timeouts in a half.
GROSZ: Yes, now...
KLUWE: Then we all saw the Monday night game end.
GROSZ: I've heard that a lot of the players are also looking forward to seeing the individuals, the actual referees themselves, not just the fact that there are these experienced guys coming back but, you know, guys that you recognize and you know, oh, you can trust this guy. I mean, what's the on-field rapport like with these individual referees?
KLUWE: Well, you get to know them. Anyone who's been in the league for, you know, four or five years, you start to recognize the reffing crews that are in. Yeah, now you know a name you can put in front of the swear word you're directing at him.
GROSZ: Now, Chris, you're a pretty outspoken guy. You once called out Drew Brees and Peyton Manning on Twitter, and you just wrote this open letter about gay marriage that a lot of people have read. What do your teammates think of that?
KLUWE: Well, they've all known I've been like that. I've never been shy, you know, at speaking out on stuff that I happen to see. It's just in this case, it happened to go a little viral, and, yeah, it got a little more national attention than most of my normal stuff.
KLUWE: So they figure it's like, oh, yeah, that's Kluwe.
GROSZ: Right, it just comes and goes.
GROSZ: You're a big gamer. Your Twitter handle is ChrisWarcraft. I'm guessing that you like the game World of Warcraft.
KLUWE: Yeah, I actually used to play it a lot and a local radio show said if I ever did Twitter - they're the ones that actually pushed me into doing Twitter - said you have to name your, you know, handle, ChrisWarcraft, because that's what they called me on the show. So I was like, all right, works for me.
GROSZ: Now, do you find yourself playing video games during extensive offensive stretches that the Vikings are having, where you don't have to go onto the field?
KLUWE: Sadly, I can't do that yet, because it's really hard to sneak a laptop down onto the field. But I hear they're making great strides with wearable electronics. So hopefully one of these days I'll be able to just tune out the game and level up a character.
GROSZ: Now, you're obviously an extensive knowledge of video games, what are the games that you like to play?
KLUWE: Pretty much everything except for sports games. I'm absolutely terrible at sports games.
KLUWE: Yeah, it's...
BABYLON: You've never seen yourself on Madden?
KLUWE: No. I have friends, though, that will tell me that they buy Madden each year just so they can put me in at quarterback and see if they can get me injured.
GROSZ: That is...
GROSZ: A, first of all, that's sadistic that they want to do that. And why does Madden let you do that?
KLUWE: I don't know.
GROSZ: There are lots of just like...
KLUWE: I don't know why they let the kickers and punters be quarterbacks. Obviously, they know we're great athletes. That must be it.
GROSZ: That's it.
GROSZ: On Madden 2014, you should be able to put in replacement refs and watch them screw up.
GROSZ: So, is your band active? Like do you guys take time off during the season or are able to play on Mondays and Tuesdays or anything?
KLUWE: Yeah, actually we do most of our playing during the season because in the off season, I live in California. Both my wife and I are from there. So we try to get as many shows during the season as we can. I do have a strict no shows after Thursday night policy, though. Because we did a Friday show one year and I was pretty knocked out on the game.
KLUWE: So that was not a good idea.
GROSZ: So are you saying that the actual playing of the bass knocked you out or was it the post-show festivities that knocked you out for Sunday?
KLUWE: Well, no, it was more of the fact that once tear down was done and we'd finally finished putting all our gear back in the practice space, it was about 3:30 in the morning.
GROSZ: Oh, I see.
FELBER: You don't have roadies?
BABYLON: Yeah, there's no roadies or tour bus?
BABYLON: Man, come on.
KLUWE: You know, we don't have any roadies. We're not quite that famous yet.
GROSZ: Let me give you some advice. How many followers do you have on Twitter?
KLUWE: A lot now.
GROSZ: OK. So and more after the show, I'm sure.
GROSZ: Just put it out there that you want some of these, you know, guys to be your roadies.
KLUWE: I feel bad though. I mean that's taking advantage of people.
GROSZ: That is what being famous is about, Chris Kluwe.
GROSZ: You are a punter. You have to find your ways to take - you think the quarterbacks and wide receivers have trouble taking advantage? They do it all the time.
GROSZ: Well, thank you so much for joining us, Chris. We have asked you here to play a game that we are calling?
CARL KASELL: Eureka. I have found it.
GROSZ: Well the 2012 Ig Nobel Prizes were handed out this week. They honor some of the more unusual and kind of ridiculous breakthroughs in science. We're going to ask you about three of these very, very real honorees. If you get two of them right, you're going to win our prize for one of our listeners. That's Carl Kasell's voice on their voicemail. Are you ready to go?
KLUWE: Yep, I am ready.
GROSZ: All right. Carl, who is Chris Kluwe playing for?
KASELL: Chris is playing for Ken Haines of Corvallis, Oregon.
GROSZ: All right, Chris, here we go. First, the Ig Nobel Anatomy Prize went to two scientists from Emory University. They discovered something fascinating about chimpanzees. Was it A: that chimps can recognize each other just by their butts? B: that chimps are consistently Team Edward?
GROSZ: Or C: They never really liked Jane Goodall.
KLUWE: Well, I would really like to go with C, but I think I'm going to go with A.
GROSZ: A, that is correct.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
GROSZ: This is true about chimpanzees, all they need to see is a photograph of a friend's butt, and they're like, "oh yeah, that's Eric."
KLUWE: I was going to say I could probably identify my long snapper the same way.
GROSZ: Have you ever seen your long snapper's face, or you're just like oh there he is?
KLUWE: Yeah, no, it's just straight rear end.
GROSZ: Yep. All right, next up: the Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine goes to a pair of French doctors, who have figured out how to minimize the chances that colonoscopy patients will do what?
KLUWE: I already know this one.
KLUWE: The answer is will not explode.
GROSZ: Wait a second.
GROSZ: Kluwe, we got a way of doing things here.
GROSZ: Let me read through.
FELBER: That was illegal motion right there.
GROSZ: That was illegal motion.
FELBER: You jumped off sides.
GROSZ: We're going to penalize you five yards. Go back to the beginning of the question.
GROSZ: I'll just read all these then you can get the answer right, OK?
GROSZ: So it is A: show friends the video of their colonoscopy?
GROSZ: Is it B: try to recognize each other just by their butts?
GROSZ: Or C: explode.
KLUWE: It's C, they will not explode quite as violently from methane and hydrogen.
GROSZ: That is absolutely right.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
GROSZ: That is right and you knew why it was right. And, you know, for those of you who didn't know that that was possible, you now have one more thing to worry about. Congratulations.
GROSZ: All right, Chris, your last question concerns the Fluid Dynamics prize. This year it went to the UC Santa Barbara researchers, who made a groundbreaking discovery that could change the world, as we know it. Was it A: 100 percent of all swimmers pee in the pool? B: why wet dogs smell like wet dogs? Or C: why you always spill your coffee when you try to walk with it?
KLUWE: Oh, that's a tough one. I'm going to go with the coffee spillage.
GROSZ: That's right.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
GROSZ: Very good.
GROSZ: Good job.
KLUWE: Thank you.
GROSZ: So next time you spill your coffee and it's not your fault that you ruined your shirt, it's science's fault, so blame science.
GROSZ: Carl Kasell, how did Chris Kluwe do?
KASELL: Chris, you had three correct answers, so you win for Ken Haines.
GROSZ: Good job.
GROSZ: Thank you, Chris.
KLUWE: Thank you.
GROSZ: Chris Kluwe is the punter for the Minnesota Vikings and the bassist in the kick butt band Tripping Icarus. Chris Kluwe, thank you so much for playing with us.
KLUWE: Thank you for having me.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.