Fmr. Viking Kluwe: ‘I Was Fired By Mike Priefer, A Bigot’
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Vikings are vowing to thoroughly review allegations brought by former punter Chris Kluwe.
In an open letter published Thursday on Deadspin, Kluwe wrote that his outspoken support of same-sex marriage cost him his job.
Kluwe alleges that during the 2012 season, head coach Leslie Frazier urged him to stop speaking out on the issue, but Kluwe said special teams coordinator Mike Priefer became downright hostile.
Kluwe wrote, “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.’”
RELATED: Mike Max interviews Chris Kluwe.
Kluwe created a national platform for the gay rights cause, appearing on shows like Ellen and the Colbert Report. His advocacy was noteworthy because it was so unexpected.
“You’re in the most hyper-masculine sport in the world,” Stephen Colbert said in a 2012 interview.
Kluwe spoke out openly and frequently about equality for gays and lesbians, and he would say that the Vikings had no problem with it.
“The organization has been very supportive about my right to make my views known,” Kluwe said in a 2012 interview with WCCO.
But now, in an online article titled “I Was An NFL Player Until I Was Fired By Two Cowards And A Bigot,” Kluwe refers to Frazier and Vikings GM Rick Spielman as cowards and Priefer a bigot.
Kluwe wrote that Priefer became increasingly hostile toward him, telling him he would “burn in hell with the gays.”
He said Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, on the other hand, shook Kluwe’s hand and encouraged him to speak out, but Spielman, Frazier and Priefer teamed up to get rid of him.
On late Thursday afternoon, Priefer released this statement:
“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.”
The Vikings also released a statement, saying this is the first time they’ve heard these allegations, and they’ll review the matter thoroughly.
They say the team does not tolerate discrimination and that “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.”
Some Vikings players also voiced their support for Priefer on Twitter.
(1/2) In my short time with the Vikings, Coach Priefer has treated me with respect and has helped me develop as a player and person.—
Jeff Locke (@jefflocke18) January 02, 2014