In an explosive column written for Deadspin, former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe says he is “pretty confident” his May release from the team was because of his outspoken support of gay marriage.
Kluwe also accuses Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer of being a bigot and blasts former coach Leslie Frazier and general manager Rick Spielman, calling them cowards.
On Priefer, Kluwe writes:
“Near the end of November, 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.’ The room grew intensely quiet, and none of the players said a word for the rest of the meeting. The atmosphere was decidedly tense. I had never had an interaction that hostile with any of my teammates on this issue — some didn’t agree with me, but our conversations were always civil and respectful. Afterward, several told me that what Mike Priefer had said was ‘messed up.'”In summing up his release from the Vikings, Kluwe places the blame on all three men.
“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 working for, and two cowards, Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman, both of whom knew I was 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.”Kluwe addressed the feedback he was getting from the Deadspin article on Twitter Thursday afternoon:
The Vikings posted a statement about Kluwe’s accusations on their website today, saying the team does not tolerate discrimination “at any level” and that Kluwe was released “strictly based on his football performance.”
Priefer also responded to Kluwe’s story with a statement:
“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. The primary reason I entered coaching was to affect people in a positive way. As a coach, I have always created an accepting environment for my players, including Chris, and have looked to support them both on and off the field. The comments today have not only attacked my character and insulted my professionalism, but they have also impacted my family. While my career focus is to be a great professional football coach, my number one priority has always been to be a protective husband and father to my wife and children. I will continue to work hard for the Minnesota Vikings, the Wilf family and all of our loyal fans.”