The Minnesota Vikings have hired former Minnesota Supreme Court chief justice Eric Magnuson and U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney Chris Madel to conduct an investigation over the allegations made by former punter Chris Kluwe.
Vikings president Mark Wilf said, “It is extremely important for the Vikings organization to react immediately and comprehensively with an independent review of these allegations.”
Chris Kluwe was a punter for the Minnesota Vikings from 2005-2012 and holds the team record for career gross and net punting averages. Kluwe was also a strong advocate for gay rights, writing letters and making local and national appearances for interviews over the issue. Kluwe was cut before the 2013 season and says he is “pretty confident” his activism was the reason he was let go.
Kluwe posted a letter on Deadspin under the heading I Was An NFL Player Until I Was Fired By Two Cowards And A Bigot. In the letter, Kluwe recounts his experience throughout the 2012 season with the Vikings and its coaching staff and management. Kluwe claims (now former) head coach Leslie Frazier attempted to tell Kluwe to stop speaking out on the issue.
After Kluwe got owner Zygi Wolf’s blessing to speak out, Frazier apparently backed down on the issue. However, Kluwe began to feel his job was in jeopardy due to special teams coordinator Mike Priefer. Kluwe alleges that Priefer told him in a “semi-joking” manner that Kluwe would end up “burning in hell with the rest of the gays.”
Kluwe then accounts another encounter with Priefer where there was no longer a joking tone being used where Priefer allegedly said “We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.” Kluwe says he began to feel ignored by Priefer, and became apprehensive about his job security after he observed Priefer treat former place kicker Ryan Longwell in a similar fashion before he was cut in May of 2012.
Kluwe finished out the 2012 season with the Vikings and had a knee surgery that required two to four weeks of recovery. Despite this surgery, Kluwe was able to fully recover; he claims he did not hear from Frazier, Priefer, or Vikings general manager Rick Spielman the entire offseason.
Kluwe again stirred up controversy after he began to tweet about Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to step down. After making some disparaging tweets directed at the Catholic Church’s “lack of transparency and endemic institutional corruption.” Kluwe claims Spielman contacted him and warned him to stop tweeting about the issue. On April 27th the Vikings spent their fifth-round pick on punter Jeff Locke, a move that took Kluwe by surprise. On May 6th, Kluwe met with Spielman and was informed the Vikings had released him. Statistically, Kluwe’s numbers in 2012 were on pace with the rest of his career averages.
Priefer responded by vehemently denying Kluwe’s allegations. In his statement, Priefer said, “I want to be clear that I do not tolerate discrimination of any type… I personally have gay family members who I love and support.”
Many people have speculated that Priefer could be the most likely in-house coaching candidate to replace Leslie Frazier as the Vikings’ head coach. Vikings VP of Legal Affairs and Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Warren said, “This is a highly sensitive matter that we as an organization will address with integrity.” The organization is confident in their method of investigation as Warren also said of Magnuson and Madel, “They have handled numerous cases involving a wide range of issues, and we are confident they will move swiftly and fairly in completing this investigation.”
The investigators have already begun their work and will include interviews with current and former members of the Vikings organization.
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