The Minnesota Vikings have suspended special teams coordinator Mike Priefer for three games after an independent investigation concluded Priefer made a homophobic comment to former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, the team announced on Friday.
The investigation came after Kluwe wrote a first-person article on Deadspin alleging that the Vikings organization had discouraged him from publicly advocating for marriage equality and that Priefer had made offensive and homophobic comments directed at Kluwe. Kluwe also alleged that the Vikings released him due to his outspoken activism for marriage equality.
The independent investigation, commissioned by the Vikings, determined that Priefer made one homophobic comment to Kluwe, but the investigation concluded there was no "sufficient evidence" that the organization tried to discourage Kluwe from speaking his opinion on marriage equality. From the investigation, via Vikings.com:
"The record supports the conclusion that players and management were concerned about the distraction that Kluwe’s activism was creating, as opposed to the nature and content of his activism. The record does not support the contention that members of management and the coaching staff were focused on discouraging Kluwe based on the nature of his activism.”
The report also concluded that Kluwe was not released due to his activism, but rather due to his "declining punt performance." Kluwe was released in May 2013.
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As of now, only a partial report has been released publicly. Kluwe threatened to sue the Vikings if they did not release the report. On Friday night, Kluwe criticized the report on his Twitter page.
In a barrage of tweets critical of the report, Kluwe accused the Vikings of playing "dirty" and vowed that more information about the team would come to light during a trial. Kluwe has also promised to donate any damages won in court to LGBT charities.
Suspended coach Mike Priefer made a statement in response to the investigation's findings:
I owe an apology to many people - the Wilf family, the Minnesota Vikings organization and fans, my family, the LGBT community, Chris Kluwe and anyone else that I offended with my insensitive remark. I regret what has occurred and what I said. I am extremely sorry but I will learn from this situation and will work on educating others to create more tolerance and respect.
In the original essay, Kluwe described special teams coach Mike Priefer as "a bigot who didn't agree with the cause I was working for" and recalls one exchange in which Priefer said, "We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows."
As a result of the investigation, the Vikings also pledged $100,000 to LGBT rights organizations.
- Stanley Kay
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