Outspoken former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe has broken his silence about his dismissal from the team earlier this year, which many speculated had something to with his marriage equality advocacy. In an Op-Ed for Deadspin, Kluwe confirms that his advocacy was indeed a factor and blames two cowards and a bigot, in particular: Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, general manager Rick Spielman, and special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, respectively.
Kluwe, clearly out of fucks to give, reminisces about his notorious letter to Maryland delegate C. Emmett Burns defending fellow gridiron tragedy/straight ally Brendon Ayanbadejo, his burgeoning activism and some sports-related stuff in the lengthy article. Secure in the belief that his football career is over (especially now), Kluwe proceeds to go in on Frazier, Spielman and especially Preifer, whom Kluwe describes as virulently homophobic:
Throughout the months of September, October, and November, Minnesota Vikings special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer would use homophobic language in my presence. He had not done so during minicamps or fall camp that year, nor had he done so during the 2011 season. 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. I tried to laugh these off while also responding with the notion that perhaps they were human beings who deserved to be treated as human beings. 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, as I felt a yelling match with my coach over human rights would greatly diminish my chances of remaining employed. I felt uncomfortable each time Mike Priefer said these things. After all, he was directly responsible for reviewing my job performance, but I hoped that after the vote concluded in Minnesota his behavior would taper off and eventually stop.
Coach Priefer. We were laughing over one of the recent articles I had written supporting same-sex marriage rights, and one of my teammates made a joking remark about me leading the Pride parade. As we 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. The atmosphere was decidedly tense. I had never had an interaction that hostile with any of my teammates on this issue—some didn’t agree with me, but our conversations were always civil and respectful. Afterward, several told me that what Mike Priefer had said was “messed up.”
Though Priefer’s comments and actions were “messed up,” Kluwe also blames Frazier — who was also recently “let go” from the team — and Spielman for lacking the “fortitude” [read: balls] to stand up to Priefer.
Kluwe stops short of calling the NFL homophobic, however, instead arguing that there are certainly people who are homphobic, just like in all walks of life. Despite the end to his career, Kluwe seems at peace with how things played out, advising readers to “never be afraid to do what’s right. If no one ever says anything, nothing ever changes.”
Even if he has to hang up his Rockette heels (that’s what punters wear on formal occasions) at least Kluwe has a future as an author of not only wonderfully scathing letters, but magically-titled books as well.
Following an official statement from the Minnesota Vikings stating there will be a thorough review of Kluwe’s allegations, Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer issued a statement of his own in which he flat out denies the claims made by the former punter. Priefer said:
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.