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Vikings coach denies statement by former punter, who accused him of saying gays should be nuked on an island


This news story was published on January 2, 2014.
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MINNEAPOLIS – A nasty feud between the Vikings and their former punter just got uglier Thursday, with the release of a scathing letter from the player with allegations of bigotry and a hostile work environment which drew reactions from a coach and the Viking organization itself.

Former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who had spoken out in favor of equality in marriage in 2012 and then was later cut from the team, said in a post published Thursday on Deadspin.com that after he began to speak out as a private citizen against a proposed amendment to the Minnesota constitution that would make marriage legal only between a man and a woman, he was subjected to what amounted to a hostile work environment.  He wrote that coach Leslie Frazier – who has since been fired – tried to make him stop speaking out on the subject, to stay away from the media, and that Frazier tried to remove him from the team until owner Zigi Wilf got involved.

Kluwe also wrote that a coach on the team, Mike Priefer, made vulgar remarks about gays.

“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,” Kluwe alleged.

On another occasion, Kluwe said that “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.'”

Later Thursday, Mike Priefer responded to Kluwe’s accusations in a letter to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

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.

Not to be left out of the fray, the Vikings also released a statement on Thursday:

vikings_logo_2The 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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