Minnesota Vikings' Chris Kluwe: I Was Fired For Pro-Gay Advocacy
Updated Thursday at 3:23 p.m. PST
The Minnesota Vikings have issued a response to the allegations made by former punter Chris Kluwe in an op-ed piece published on Deadspin today:
Here's the statement from the Vikings:
The Minnesota Vikings were made aware of Chris Kluwe’s allegations for the first time today. We take them 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. 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. We will have further comment at the appropriate time.
Thoughts on the Vikings' response, Instincters?
Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe has penned a op-ed piece for Deadspin, in which, he opens up on what he believes to be the reason behind his release from the Vikings: specifically, he was forced out based on his LGBT advocacy. He also openly labels Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer as a bigot, who consistently used homophobic slurs and denounced gays.
According to Kluwe, Priefer went so far as to say that "We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows."
On Priefer Kluwe writes:
Throughout the months of September, October, and November, Minnesota Vikings special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer would use homophobic language in my presence. He had not done so during minicamps or fall camp that year, nor had he done so during the 2011 season. He would ask me if I had written any letters defending "the gays" recently and denounce as disgusting the idea that two men would kiss, and he would constantly belittle or demean any idea of acceptance or tolerance. I tried to laugh these off while also responding with the notion that perhaps they were human beings who deserved to be treated as human beings. Mike Priefer also said on multiple occasions that I would wind up burning in hell with the gays, and that the only truth was Jesus Christ and the Bible. He said all this in a semi-joking tone, and I responded in kind, as I felt a yelling match with my coach over human rights would greatly diminish my chances of remaining employed. I felt uncomfortable each time Mike Priefer said these things. After all, he was directly responsible for reviewing my job performance, but I hoped that after the vote concluded in Minnesota his behavior would taper off and eventually stop.
Kluwe ultimately throws down the gauntlet--pointedly saying that he believes his release was directly in response to him raising his voice in support of marriage equality.
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. (Frazier was fired on Monday, at the conclusion of a 5-10-1 season.) One of the main coaching points I've heard throughout my entire life is, "How you respond to difficult situations defines your character," and I think it's a good saying. I also think it applies to more than just the players.
If there's one thing I hope to achieve from sharing this story, it's to make sure that Mike Priefer never holds a coaching position again in the NFL, and ideally never coaches at any level. (According to the Pioneer Press, he is "the only in-house candidate with a chance" at the head-coaching job.) It's inexcusable that someone would use his status as a teacher and a role model to proselytize on behalf of his own doctrine of intolerance, and I hope he never gets another opportunity to pass his example along to anyone else. I also hope that Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman take a good look in the mirror and ask themselves if they are the people they truly profess themselves to be.
Head to Deadspin for Kluwe's full op-ed.
What's your take on Kluwe's commentary, Instincters?