The Minnesota Vikings have been dealing with a public relations nightmare ever since they let veteran punter Chris Kluwe go following his support of gay marriage and increased social activism as well as an increased presence in the media that followed. After being one of the better punters in the history of the Vikings franchise, the team decided it was time to part ways with their veteran punter which has led to the perception that the team let him go because they were uncomfortable with his views as well as him becoming a potential distraction.
This led Kluwe to Oakland where he spent the 2013 Preseason with the Raiders before he was cut after losing a position battle to young punter Marquette King, who was the clear cut better option with more upside and power in his punts than the veteran Kluwe. However, that doesn’t mean that Kluwe didn’t feel wronged enough by the Vikings to eventually make it public that he felt outcasted by the organization and particularly one of the assistant coaches for deciding to defend the rights of homosexuals.
Kluwe alleges that Special Teams Coordinator Mike Preifer continuously made uncomfortable and insensitive remarks about gay people to the punter before he wasn’t resigned by the team in addition to several other instances with the organization where he felt he was being treated unfairly due to his decision to be vocal about his views on equal rights. That led to his famous allegations in Deadspin where Kluwe put his accusations about his experience in Minnesota at the end of his stay out in the open.
Today the Vikings have released a statement, denying that any of Kluwe’s allegations have taken place and that the team broke any promises made or conducted in any sort of activity that has been accused of the organization in the Deadspin article.
From the Vikings:
Since Chris Kluwe’s allegations first appeared in Deadspin on January 2, 2014, the Minnesota Vikings have taken them very seriously, which is why the team immediately retained former Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court Eric Magnuson and former U.S. Department of Justice Trial Attorney Chris Madel, two partners of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, L.L.P. (RKMC), to perform an independent review of these allegations. Magnuson and Madel were asked to thoroughly and comprehensively investigate three particular allegations by Kluwe and Kluwe’s counsel:
1) Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer made offensive and insensitive remarks in Kluwe’s presence.
2) Representatives of the Vikings had knowledge of these comments prior to the Deadspin article publication on January 2, 2014.
3) Kluwe’s activism was the reason for his release from the Vikings on May 6, 2013.
Magnuson, Madel and others spent nearly six months conducting an exhaustive investigation. After the Vikings were given the investigative materials from Magnuson and Madel, in order to further maintain objectivity and integrity, the team engaged a nationally-prominent law firm in employment matters – Littler Mendelson P.C. – to evaluate employment law matters and provide findings and recommendations to the Vikings. Those recommendations are to be provided to the team this week.
As Magnuson and Madel confirmed today, the Vikings have never made or broken promises as Kluwe and his attorney Clayton Halunen have claimed. The Vikings have also never engaged in the various comments that Kluwe and Halunen have provided to the media over the past six months. This Thursday, July 17, the team has a meeting scheduled between Halunen and Vikings attorneys to discuss next steps
As we have consistently communicated throughout this process, the Vikings will have further comment when the investigation is entirely complete and the team has made determinations on next steps.
It was expected that the Vikings were going to deny any wrongdoing in the matter, and it will be interesting to see how far this really goes. Nobody knows who is telling the truth in this situation, and it could still be possible that Kluwe is telling the truth if the recent Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin saga has taught us anything. Regardless it is a messy situation for both the NFL and the Vikings that should drag out through the 2014 season.