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New Raider Chris Kluwe talks 'corporatization' of NFL

CULVER CITY, Calif. -- I read more old football books than is probably healthy.

One of my constant takeaways: Players were far more outspoken from the 1960s to the '80s than they are today. They were less scripted, criticizing opponents or speaking honestly about their own coaches in a manner that would create huge headlines today. More players also routinely took strong social stands.

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Oakland Raiders punter Chris Kluwe is an exception to this rule. So I thought he would be a good person to ask about my theory during his recent visit to our Around The League headquarters.

Kluwe agreed that players are more vanilla these days, believing it all comes back to money.

"Football has become such a big business," Kluwe answered. "It's the corporatization of the sport. It's that Michael Jordan quote: 'Republicans buy tennis shoes.'

"You have this broad, overarching sport that you want to appeal to as many people as possible that you can't risk offending anyone because that may be lost sales," Kluwe added. "But my thing is, if you don't stand for something, eventually society will continue to swirl down the drain and you'll get to a point where there won't be anymore sports because everyone is hitting each other with sticks trying to get food and water."

I don't necessarily agree with Kluwe on everything, but the NFL is a better place because he speaks his mind. I also love that his book, called "Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies," rightly calls out Ayn Rand for being an awful writer. That much everyone should be able to agree on.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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