NFL player and human rights campaigner Chris Kluwe, has announced that he has been dropped by the Minnesota Vikings, saying that “making people aware of an issue that is causing children to commit suicide is more important than kicking a leather ball.”

The punter, who has been a very strong, and vocal advocate of equal marriage, made the announcement on Twitter, via three messages. The first said: “So long, Minnesota, and thanks for all the fish!”

He continued: “Thank you to all the fans, my teammates, and the Wilf family for the past 8.5 years. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.” Followed by: “And thank you everyone for your support. Remember, one label does not define who you are as a person :)”.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune questioned whether it was Kluwe’s history of being outspoken about human rights, which may have cost him his position.

Kluwe said: “Now, I would hope that I would get the chance to play football again, because I think I can still play. But if it ends up being something that costs me that position, I think making people aware of an issue that is causing children to commit suicide is more important than kicking a leather ball.”

The Vikings general manager, Rick Spielman, said, however that cutting Kluwe was not related to anything he chose to do off the field.

“When we’re making decisions, we’re purely making them trying to bring in the best competition possible regardless of position,” he said.

“This was just another normal personnel move. It had nothing to do with Chris Kluwe’s off-field concerns, I have no issues if Chris Kluwe wants to express his opinion, that’s his right, that’s his freedom of speech. This is just a football decision to bring in a guy to come in to compete.”

Chris Kluwe made the headlines in September when he defended Brendon Ayanbadejo, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, against a call from Delegate Emmett C Burns Jr, to reprimand Ayanbadejo, who recorded a video for a gay rights advocacy group In October 2011.

In a response to Burns, he wrote: “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.”

He and Ayanbadejo, wrote an amicus brief, and filed it, urging the Supreme Court to act against legislation preventing equal marriage.

Last week, Kluwe joined Michelle Obama, and thousands of others, in tweeting a message of support for the US’s first openly gay player in any major team sport, Jason Collins, of the NBA, who came out in a piece for Sports Illustrated magazine.

At the same time, he wrote an impassioned opinion piece in which he addresses the question of why, as a straight man, he supports the gay community.