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.