Minnesota Vikings coach Priefer to be suspended for confirmed homophobic remarks

Minnesota Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer

In a statement released late Friday evening (good way to bury the story), the Minnesota Vikings announced special teams coach Mike Priefer will be suspended for three games in the coming season for confirmed homophobic remarks.

The comments were brought to light by former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who said his activism on behalf of LGBT rights made his superiors at the Vikings unhappy, leading to his release.  Kluwe waited until  the end of the football season to share his thoughts on the homophobia he felt he saw and heard while a member of the Vikings team.

Kluwe’s accusations were responsible for a months long investigation into whether a hostile or homophobic environment existed in the Vikings training sessions.

In a January essay for Deadspin, Kluwe contended that his 2013 release from the team was the result of his outspoken support for same-sex marriage.

He also said that former head coach Leslie Frazier pressured him to stop his public activism and that Priefer engaged in anti-gay taunts. Priefer repeatedly and vehemently denied the allegations, but the team’s investigation concluded that the coach made a “single homophobic statement to Kluwe.”

Vikings long snapper Cullen Loeffler confirmed Kluwe’s account that Priefer once said, “We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.” Priefer owned up to the remark after Loeffler’s confirmation, according to a summary of the report that was released by the team.

Priefer’s penalty could be reduced to two suspended games should he choose to attend sensitivity training. In addition, the team also announced there will be a $100,000 donation to LGBT rights charities.

It should be underlined that when Preifer’s comments first came to light this past spring, he adamantly denied making them:

“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.”

Now, confronted with Loeffler’s confirmation, Priefer said, “If [Loeffler] remembers me saying something on the practice field, I am not going to disagree with it.” 

How light-weight and dodgy is that?

Kluwe maintains that the Vikings promised to release the full investigation and not merely the summary provided.  Through Twitter he’s made clear he intends to file a lawsuit against the team for $10 million, which all proceeds going to charity.

You can read the 29-page report of the investigation below:

Chris Kluwe on the newly launched investigation regarding homophobia on the Minnesota Vikings staff

Former punter for the Minnesota Vikings Chris Kluwe says he’s more than happy to take part in the investigation to be conducted by the former chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court regarding homophobia behind the scenes at the Minnesota Vikings:

“I’m glad they’re taking it seriously. This is something I wrote down, because it’s what happened to me, and I’m 100 percent confident in what I wrote, and there are witnesses that will back me up. Let the investigation begin.”

I only know Chris Kluwe from his writing over the past couple of years and his very public voice. Based on nothing than my own gut, I’m inclined to believe his allegations.

We shall see what does – and does not – come to light.

Remember, the investigators are hired by the Vikings. So anything they find has to be given the green light by management before it can be released to the public.

Attorney/client privilege don’t you know…

Minnesota Vikings Blair Walsh: I stand with management regarding Kluwe’s accusations

The statement below comes from 2 year Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh.

It should be noted that Walsh watched Kluwe get fired for speaking out. Two brain cells could come up with the fact that to say anything other than the statement above could get you fired.

Just saying…

“I have been a member of the Minnesota Vikings for 2 years. I want to start off by saying I have the utmost respect for Rick Spielman, Leslie Frazier and Mike Priefer. All three, are good men. I have had countless conversations and interactions with Coach Priefer, and I personally can attest to his integrity and character. His professionalism in the workplace is exemplary, and I firmly believe that my teammates would whole-heartedly agree.

“The allegations made today are reprehensible and totally not compatible with what Mike Priefer stands for.

[snip]

“In my time here at Minnesota, Rick Spielman and Leslie Frazier have exemplified true leadership. Contrary to Chris’ statements, they have promoted a workplace environment that was conducive for success. At no time did I ever feel suppressed or that I could not be myself.I firmly stand behind Rick Spielman, Leslie Frazier, and Mike Priefer.”

NFL player Brendon Ayanbadejo believes Chris Kluwe’s allegations of homophobia in the Vikings organization

Former NFL star Brendon Ayanbadejo tells TMZ Sports ex-Minnesota Vikings kicker Chris Kluwe is “100% right” about claims he was cut from the team because of his pro-gay rights crusade — and he’s got the stats to back it up.

I guess, at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself: “Is it possible a straight, conservative football coach might have used anti-gay language or phrases in the locker room?”

Is that possible?

I think we know the answer to that question.


Vikings coach Mike Priefer disputes Chris Kluwe’s allegations of bigotry and homophobia

Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer

Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer is denying former punter Chris Kluwe’s claims that the two of them butted heads over Kluwe’s advocacy of gay marriage, and that Priefer used homophobic language around Kluwe.

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.

I’m not sure why, but the line about “my number one priority has always been to be a protective husband and father to  my wife and children” jumps out at me as off topic.  How does that relate to these allegations?  OR, what is he protecting his family from?  The gays?  It just seems odd that the line is there. 

Kluwe, who gained widespread attention during the 2012 season for his advocacy of gay marriage and his outspoken opposition to anti-gay bigotry, wrote yesterday that he was subjected to homophobic language from Priefer. Kluwe, who called Priefer a “bigot,” believes that he was cut because the team sided with Priefer over him on the matter.

Citing many examples of homophobic statements on behalf of Priefer,  Kluwe describes one particularly virulent episode: “As [my teammates and I] 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.”

I have several friends who are football players.  My understanding is that it’s not uncommon among players and coaches for homophobic slang to come up even in just casual use as part of the locker room culture.  Priefer might want to be very aware of what and how he says things in the next few days about the allegations.  All it would take to damage him further would be for a former Viking player (who has nothing to gain or lose) to come forward saying he used any form of anti-gay language.  Just one example of using “fa**ot” or “p*ssy” in a Vikings setting would wreck havok on his future coaching career.

I’d also point out – everyone has a smart phone today.  And a lot of people record meetings using the recording app on their phones for future reference.  Priefer might want to think if there are any recordings out there with ANY ant-gay animus coming from him.

Two current kickers for the Vikings – Jeff Locke and Blair Walsh – have come out in support of Priefer.  But that needs to be taken with a grain of salt.  They saw Kluwe fired.  There’s no way they will risk their livelihood over this.

The Vikings (who still employ Priefer even though they fired his
boss, head coach Leslie Frazier, this week) have vowed to investigate
Kluwe’s accusations.

According to reports Priefer is
under consideration to become head coach.  If that’s true, he would have
good reason to defend himself at this time.

I think it would be of great concern to the Vikings management to get to the bottom of such allegations. As an NFL team, the Vikings stand as role models to the people of Minnesota and beyond. The idea that a head coach – who sets the tone for the entire organization – could possibly be spouting such hateful comments about LGBT citizens is very disconcerting.

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