Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe claims he was cut by the team because of his stance on pro-gay issues.
This is precisely what the controversial Kluwe emphasizes in a Deadspin article he wrote and posted on Jan. 2. He labeled former Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier and current general manager Rick Spielman as “cowards” while he called special teams coordinator Mike Priefer “a bigot.”
Here are some snippets:
“Near the end of November (2012), several teammates and I were walking into a specialist meeting with Coach Priefer. We were laughing over one of the recent articles I had written supporting same-sex marriage rights, and one of my teammates made a joking remark about me leading the Pride parade.
“As we sat down in our chairs, Mike Priefer, in one of the meanest voices I can ever recall hearing, said:’We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.
“After this point, Mike Priefer began saying less and less to me, and our interactions were stilted. I grew increasingly concerned that my job would be in jeopardy.”
In the Deadspin article, Kluwe also said he underwent surgery for a torn mensiscus in his left knee on Jan. 31, 2013. He says Frazier, Spielman and Priefer made no effort to check on his post-surgery progress.
“At no point did Mike Priefer, Leslie Frazier, or Vikings general manager Rick Spielman contact me, nor did they ever ask how the surgery had gone, nor did they ever ask how my return to kicking was progressing.”
Kluwe then gets to the heart of the matter toward the end of his written piece.
“So there you have it. It’s my belief, based on everything that happened over the course of 2012, that I was fired by Mike Priefer, a bigot who didn’t agree with the cause I was looking for, and two cowards, Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman, both of whom knew I was a good punter and would remain a good punter and would remain a good punter for the foreseeable future, as my numbers over my eight-year career had shown, but who lacked the fortitude to disagree with Mike Priefer on a touchy subject matter.”
For their part, the Vikings responded accordingly to their ex-punter’s accusations via a press release on their official website:
“As an organization, the Vikings consistently strive to create a supportive, respectful and accepting environment for all of our players, coaches and front office personnel. We do not tolerate discrimination at any level.
“The team has long respected our players’ and associates’ individual rights, and, as Chris specifically stated, Vikings ownership supports and promotes tolerance, including on the subject of marriage equality.
“Because he was identified with the Vikings, Chris was asked to be respectful while expressing his opinions. Team ownership and management also repeatedly emphasized to Chris that the Vikings would not impinge on his right to express his views.
“Any notion that Chris was released from our football team due to his stance on marriage equality is entirely inaccurate and inconsistent with team policy. Chris was released strictly based on his football performance.”
Priefer also released a statement on The Minneapolis Star Tribune refuting Kluwe’s claims:
“I vehemently deny today’s allegations made by Chris Kluwe.
“I want to be clear that I do not tolerate discrimination of any type and am respectful of all individuals. I personally have gay family members who I love and support just as I do any family member.”
Nonetheless, Chris Tomasson of The St. Paul Pioneer-Press mentions in his Jan. 2 report that Kluwe “hasn’t ruled out filing a discrimination lawsuit.”
The Vikings released Kluwe on May 6, 2013 with one year remaining on his contract, per ESPN’s Kevin Seifert. He spent his entire eight-year pro career in Minnesota from 2005-12.