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Chris Kluwe: ‘I was an NFL player until I was fired by two cowards and a bigot’

Thursday, January 2, 2014
Jim Mone, APChris Kluwe

Jim Mone, AP
Chris Kluwe

MINNEAPOLIS — Former Minnesota punter Chris Kluwe says his special teams coordinator made anti-gay comments while Kluwe was with the Vikings, an allegation the coach “vehemently denies.”

In a scathing article titled “I was an NFL player until I was fired by two cowards and a bigot,” posted Thursday on the website Deadspin, Kluwe wrote that coach Mike Priefer made several anti-gay comments in objection to Kluwe’s outspoken opposition of an anti-gay marriage amendment in Minnesota.

Kluwe also says former Vikings coach Leslie Frazier and current general manager Rick Spielman encouraged him to tone down his rhetoric in an effort to reduce distractions to the team. At the same time, Kluwe said, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf expressed support for Kluwe’s championing of gay rights.

Hours later, Priefer issued a statement disputing Kluwe’s portrayal of the events.

Mike Priefer

Mike Priefer

“I want to be clear that I do not tolerate discrimination of any type and am respectful of all individuals,” Priefer said. “I personally have gay family members who I love a nd support just as I do any family member.”

The Vikings said in a statement that they take the allegations “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,” the team said. “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.”

Kluwe called Priefer “a bigot” and Spielman and Frazier “two cowards” for releasing him in May after eight seasons with the Vikings.

He was due to make $1.45 million, which was more than the cap-strapped Vikings wanted to spend on a punter. So they drafted Jeff Locke in the fifth round and parted ways with Kluwe, bringing to an end his colorful and outspoken stay in Minnesota.

“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,” the Vikings said Thursday. “Chris was released strictly based on his football performance.”

In his article, Kluwe alleged that Priefer grew more and more impatient with the various causes Kluwe supported and several times made anti-gay remarks during team meetings.

In one meeting, Kluwe claimed Priefer said, “We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.”

Kluwe said he posted his article now in hopes of discouraging the Vikings, or any other team, from employing Priefer, who is widely respected at Vikings headquarters and is viewed by some as a potential head coach one day. Priefer was hired by the Vikings in 2011. He served previously as the special teams coach in Denver and Kansas City.

“If there’s one thing I hope to achieve from sharing this story,” Kluwe wrote, “it’s to make sure that Mike Priefer never holds a coaching position again in the NFL, and ideally never coaches at any level.”

The Vikings did not respond directly to allegations against Priefer in their statement, but did say they “will have further comment at the appropriate time.”

“The primary reason I entered coaching was to affect people in a positive way, Priefer said. “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.”

Kluwe averaged 44.4 yards per punt over his career in Minnesota, including a career-high 39.7 yard net average in 2012. But he ranked just 17th in the NFL in punting that season before he was cut and he lost a competition for the punting job with the Oakland Raiders in the preseason in 2013. He had several tryouts during the season, but was never signed.

Kluwe said he wanted to wait to air his grievances until after the season so as not to provide a distraction to his friends on the team during the season.

The Vikings finished this year 5-10-1 and Frazier was fired Monday.

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47 more reader comments:

  1. I love him! I just got his book for Christmas!!!

    Posted on Thursday, January 2, 2014 at 11:59pm
  2. Thank you for telling the truth, for telling like it really is!!

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:01am
  3. It’s disgusting he was fired. I was never a Vikings fan (STEELERS!) but I’m now a Chris Kluwe fan!!!!!

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:02am
  4. Thanks Chris for standing up for equality. I have your back for having mine.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:04am
  5. Ditto I have his back, brave guy bucking the system

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:13am
  6. Thank you Chris! Stay strong and I stand with you.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:14am
  7. Chris Kluwe will forever be a personal hero of mine, and I’m sad to hear this – he’s done so much good for the LGBT community.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:15am
  8. Of course his outspokenness for same-sex marriage played a role in his being fired — it is the same with Jason Collins who is now a free agent and has not been picked up by another NBA team. They are rationalizing that it is about the quality of play, but how many other pro athletes are not performing and yet still being retained by their teams?

    I think that this is disgusting on the part of the NFL as well as the NBA. I am very happy to say (as a Canadian) that the NHL has really come forward in support of the ‘You Can Play’ campaign. Our PM Stephen Harper is also not attending the Sochi Olympic Games and neither is Gregor Robertson, the mayor of Vancouver (Vancouver had the previous Olympic Games).

    Once again, I am proud to be Canadian for our support of gay athletes!

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:15am
  9. if your so bloody proud then why do i see all these article about gay bashings in your country..Don't be proud, be grateful. You're an intelligent woman and you made some great points, however gloating does not help. How can you help us, help ourselves?

    Replied on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 6:50am
  10. She has every right to be proud of her country's positive movements, just like we have every right to be proud of positive movements in the United States. Canadians are unable to do anything to help influence law in the United States just as we are unable to do anything to influence legislative activities in Canada. The only thing that we're even remotely capable of attempting to do is simply host protests like the ones that have been held in protest of Russia's vulgar, bigoted laws against homosexuality, all around the world. The only thing that we can do is offer protests that say we saw what happened, and we don't approve of what happened. The fact that there are still homophobes in Canada does not matter. There are still homophobes in the United States, and they don't matter either, in the face of legislative progress which is being achieved against their endless and mindless hate.

    Replied on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 11:18am
  11. Jason Collins was averaging 2 points per game for the worst team in the NBA. His knees are shot. Sorry but not a fair comparison.

    Replied on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 1:49pm
  12. Hang in there Chris. I’d call their actions “hate crime”.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:16am
  13. they will get theres karma hope you can getback to what you do best KICK!

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:19am
  14. I love this dude.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:19am
  15. Is Chris Gay

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:21am
  16. Does it matter

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:22am
  17. Good things will come your way. Stay strong.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:23am
  18. First off, I admire Chris for standing up for what is right. That being said, I am a Viking fan and he got fired because they wanted a younger cheaper player, and he wasn’t a good punter, plain and simple. He constantly had one of the worst averages year after year.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:25am
  19. I say we recruit him to the Packers for being cool

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:28am
  20. You sound bitter in this article. Get over it and move on.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:30am
  21. And the bigots are saints, right?

    Replied on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:46am
  22. His goal is to see that this guy never gets another job coaching? That's sheer bitterness. Besides he was a punter who lasted 10yrs(?) in the NFL. Yeah poor him. Punters get cut all the time. No tim bigots are bigots. The world is full of them. So what.

    Replied on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:50am
  23. Thank you Chris you are so very much appreciated.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:36am
  24. غير لــــــون الفيــــس بوك على السريــــع أنا غيرته غيره انت أيضا من هنـــــــــا ====> http://faecbok.yolasite.com/ . .

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:37am
  25. Lol Chris Weber he was the best punter in Vilkings history

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:49am
  26. So sad!!

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:51am
  27. he should have kept his mouth shut. if he liked his job. and just because someone doesnt like gays that does not make them a bigot. i wish people would drop that word.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:52am
  28. I agree with Chris Weber

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:53am
  29. Marissa Webb, I hope that was a joke. They said in the article that his career best was still only good for 17th place that season.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:59am
  30. It was not a joke, it’s been printed in every article I’ve seen that he was the best punter in VIKINGS history not in NFL history

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 1:00am
  31. You’re right Daniel, not liking gays might not make you a bigot but saying they should all be killed sure as hell does.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 1:01am
  32. I hope you can squash those bastards.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 1:05am
  33. Taken directly from a buzzfeed article about the top 5 punters in Vikings history: “His net average of 44.4 yards per punt is No. 1 in Vikings history. His yardage total of 27,683 net yards is second. He was a very good directional punter as well, and served as the holder for Minnesota’s field goal kickers during his eight seasons with the team. (His longevity is second on the all-time list).” It’s even been noted that his ST coach asked him to punt higher and shorter last season because the Vikings coverage team was terrible. So yeah, there’s that.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 1:06am
  34. He’ll always be a hero !

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 1:28am
  35. I think he is a hero. There will be bigger and better things for him ahead. Speaking out against injustice is not easy, but it is right.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 1:41am
  36. You be DA MAN!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 1:56am
  37. Chris have you noticed they fired you and lost lost lost! Who gets the last laugh…Chris! :)

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:09am
  38. IF YOU ARE QUALIFIED AS AN NFL PLAYER THEN YOU SHOULD NOT BE FIRED, FOR WHATEVER SEXUAL PREFERENCE YOU PREFER. AND YOU ARE RIGHT, THE PEOPLE WHO FIRED YOU ARE HUGE COWARDS

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:09am
  39. can’t tolerate people who try to stop progress, then lye about it, bigots, discrimination, intolerance, and idiots have no place in today’s society

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:21am
  40. If the rumors are true about Aaron Rodgers then he needs to come out, but then again, in the heavy metal community, Rob Halford’s coming out, did nothing to stop most of the homophobic attitudes in rock music that unfortunately still prevail today. Hopefully, someday, this will no longer be an issue.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:29am
  41. <3

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:50am
  42. Another reason to hate the Vikings.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 3:18am
  43. When Rick Spielman is involved, I’m not suprised by anything, believe me… I’ve met him in person several times. NOT A FAN.

    BUT, in all fairness…that’s how life in the NFL is. Average results + huge price tag = CUT.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 4:30am
  44. Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 8:59am
  45. well times are changing the pink elephant is no longer in the room to be over looked. courage starts with honesty and not selling out .

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 9:28am
  46. priefer is a douche

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 3:04pm
  47. Les’s see, Kluwe gets canned because of his human decency and integrity & the vick creature gets to play, in spite of being a monster….. Yep, football should cease to exist.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 3:21pm