In an explosive column written for Deadspin, former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe says he was released by the team because of his outspoken support of gay marriage.
Kluwe also accuses the 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 said in a statement that they take the allegations ”very seriously and will thoroughly review this matter.”
”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,” the team said. ”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.”
Kluwe was due to make $1.45 million this past season, which was more than the cap-strapped Vikings wanted to spend on a punter. So they drafted Jeff Locke in the fifth round last April and parted ways with Kluwe, bringing to an end his colorful and outspoken stay in Minnesota.
”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,” the Vikings said Thursday. ”Chris was released strictly based on his football performance.”