Mike Priefer vehemently denies Chris Kluwe’s allegations

Mike Priefer VikingsMinnesota Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer issued a statement Thursday in response to Chris Kluwe’s allegations that he is anti-gay and a bigot. Priefer vehemently denied Kluwe’s allegations.

Here is the statement he sent to some Vikings beat writers via the 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.

Kluwe was released by the team this spring after eight seasons served as their punter. He held his silence until now, which is when he wrote a first-person story for Deadspin in which he stated his belief that he was cut by the Vikings for his outspoken ways. In the story, Kluwe accused Priefer of making homophobic remarks. He labeled Priefer a “bigot,” and GM Rick Spielman and coach Leslie Frazier “cowards.”

We know Priefer came out last year and said Kluwe’s “distractions” were getting old, so that seems to be a pretty solid sign he was frustrated with his punter’s outspoken ways. Though he denies saying what Kluwe alleges, let me just say that I believe Kluwe a lot more than I believe Priefer.

The Vikings also issued a statement in resonse to Kluwe’s article. Here is what they said:

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.

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  • pepperoni999

    The comment from the author that ‘…let me just say that I believe Kluwe a lot more than I believe Preifer’ is irresponsible. At this point, no one who may have been present when the comments alleged by Kluwe to have been made by Preifer has come forward to either confirm or deny either man’s story.

    The coach has a responsibility to prepare his players, physically, mentally and emotionally, to play at the highest level possible. Irrespective of Preifer’s opinion of gay marriage, the gay life style, or homosexuality, it is a possibility that Preifer felt Kluwe’s focus on issues other than football (whether those issues were gay marriage or acceptance of homosexuality) were a distraction to the team and/or Kluwe’s performance as a punter. I believe in his last year with the Vikings Chris Kluwe was the 17th ranked punter in the NFL.

    What should be of great concern to everyone is that personal opinions are now equated with bigotry. Racism, anti-antisemitism, homophobia, etc., is not what you say, it is what you do. Years ago, retired basketball player Mitch Richmond made a comment in an interview that he hated gays. The black actor Isaiah Washington was fired from his job on a TV series for making jokes about homosexuality. Even after he apologized he was fired and was required to attend sensitivity classes about homosexuality. The football player Riley Cooper was overheard using a racial epithet about blacks.

    I don’t like the comments that any of these men made. None of their comments make them either homophobic or racist. I do not look to a football player, a basketball player or an actor for how I should treat or regard my fellow human beings.

    There is something terribly wrong in this country wherein opinions that are disagreeable to the listener – regardless of where in the political or social spectrum those opinions emanate from – provoke so much outrage and offense.