The Minnesota Vikings and former punter Chris Kluwe announced Tuesday that they have reached a settlement to avoid a lawsuit threatened by Kluwe in relation to his release from the team.
According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Vikings will donate to five LGBT nonprofit groups for the next five years to help educate against homophobia. Two of the charities are the Matthew Shepard Foundation and a charity run by openly gay retired NFL player Wade Davis.
Kluwe will not receive any money in the settlement. His lawyer, Clayton Halunen, said the amount that the Vikings will donate is "substantial" and called the agreement "historic" and "game-changing," according to the Pioneer Press.
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"The team will also continue to enhance its sensitivity training policy and will further embody in the Club Code of Conduct and Employee Handbook a Zero Tolerance Policy for any discrimination and harassment because of race, religion, national origin or sexual orientation. Finally, the Vikings will work to build awareness and understanding of LGBT issues in professional football and in sports generally."
On Jan. 2, Kluwe published an essay on Deadspin alleging the team discouraged his public support of marriage equality and eventually released him because of it. Kluwe also alleged special teams coach Mike Priefer made homophobic remarks in his presence.
Following the allegations, the Vikings launched an investigation, which concluded Kluwe had been released for football reasons. However, Priefer was suspended for three games after being found to have made a homophobic remark.
A team summary of the investigation included an account from then-Vikings strength and conditioning coach Tom Kanavy, who told of a joke that Kluwe made about the Jerry Sandusky situation at Penn State. Kluwe would later apologize for the joke, and said he expected Vikings executive vice president Kevin Warren to apologize for it being included in the summary.
On Tuesday, Warren offered an apology to anyone who was offended by anything from the investigation process.
"If there's anyone that we offended along the way while we were working on this, we were trying do the best and get to the facts and get to the truth," Warren said.
Halunen initially called the released version of the investigation a "scrubbed" version of what actually happened. Kluwe announced his intention to sue Minnesota for $10 million in damages in an effort to make the report public, and started a Change.org petition asking the Vikings to release the report. He tweeted that any money won in the lawsuit would be donated to LGBTQ charities.
The Vikings said Tuesday the two sides have reached "a resolution of all issues relating to Kluwe's departure from the Vikings and public comments made by him on January 2, 2014."
“I hope we can all move on to our lives now and enjoy playing football,” Kluwe said. “The agreement is fine.”
- Molly Geary