Former Vikings punter says he lost job due to stance on gay marriage

5:19 PM, Jan 2, 2014   |    comments
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 11: Chris Kluwe #5 of the Minnesota Vikings looks on during the game against the Detroit Lions on November 11, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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(USA TODAY) -- In an article posted to Deadspin entitled "I Was An NFL Player Until I Was Fired By Two Cowards And A Bigot," former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe alleges that he lost his job as Vikings punter because of his public support of gay marriage.

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The article looks back at Kluwe's 2012 season and alleged interactions he had with former head coach Leslie Frazier, general manager Rick Spielman, and special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer. Kluwe writes that Frazier and Spielman (the "cowards" from the article's title) were made uncomfortable by his public support of gay marriage. Kluwe also states that Priefer, who Kluwe refers to as the "bigot," was openly hostile to Kluwe about his support of gay rights, and Kluwe says he believes Priefer was the one directly responsible for him losing his job.

READ| Klue tweets he's been released by Vikings

Kluwe says he is writing the article now to "make sure that Mike Priefer never holds a coaching position again in the NFL, and ideally never coaches at any level." Priefer is considered a candidate for the vacant Minnesota Vikings head-coach position.

Kluwe also writes that he would like to continue punting in the NFL, but says:"However, it's clear to me that no matter how much I want to prove I can play, I will no longer punt in the NFL, especially now that I've written this account. Whether it's my age, my minimum veteran salary, my habit of speaking my mind, or (most likely) a combination of all three, my time as a football player is done."

Kluwe says the relationship between Priefer and him began deteriorating at the beginning of the 2012 season, after he first made public his support of gay marriage.

From the article:"Throughout the months of September, October, and November, Minnesota Vikings special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer would use homophobic language in my presence...He would ask me if I had written any letters defending 'the gays' recently and denounce as disgusting the idea that two men would kiss, and he would constantly belittle or demean any idea of acceptance or tolerance...Mike Priefer also said on multiple occasions that I would wind up burning in hell with the gays, and that the only truth was Jesus Christ and the Bible. He said all this in a semi-joking tone, and I responded in kind..."

Later, Kluwe describes an incident where he alleges Priefer used violent language in a team meeting."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."

Kluwe goes on to describe the deterioration of the relationship between him and Priefer, and then his eventual dismissal from the team. 

The Vikings released a statement through their website Thursday afternoon: 

The Minnesota Vikings were made aware of Chris Kluwe's allegations for the first time today. We take them 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. 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.

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. Chris was released strictly based on his football performance.

We will have further comment at the appropriate time.

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