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Former NFL punter says he was fired for supporting marriage equality

Posted by David Zimmerman  January 2, 2014 06:50 PM

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(Minnesota Vikings)

Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, best known for his support and activism on behalf of marriage equality, is speaking out against his for former NFL coaches. In an article Kluwe has written for the website Deadspin he has alleged that, among other things, his former Special Teams coach Mike Priefer stated in a meeting that "We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows."

Kluwe punted for the Vikings for 8 seasons prior to getting cut from the team before to the current season. He was then picked up by the Oakland Raiders cut shortly thereafter. In the article Kluwe states that “I honestly don't know if my activism was the reason I got fired. However, I'm pretty confident it was.”

In explaining his history with the marriage equality movement Kluwe writes about first being approached during the summer of 2012 by the Minnesotans for Marriage Equality group. The group asked Kluwe if he would help them defeat the Minnesota Gay Marriage Amendment, which defined marriage as between a man and woman.

“After talking to the Vikings legal department, I was given the go-ahead to speak on the issue as long as I made it clear I was acting as a private citizen, not as a spokesman for the Vikings, which I felt was fair and complied with. I did several radio advertisements and a dinner appearance for Minnesotans for Marriage Equality,” writes Kluwe.

A few months later, in September 2012, Kluwe writes that he was called into Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frasier’s office and told that he "needed to be quiet, and stop speaking out on this stuff."

The bulk of Kluwe’s wrath is directed at his position coach, Mike Priefer. Throughout the article Kluwe recounts instance of homophobic language being used by Priefer including the “nuke it until it glows” statement referenced above, and Priefer stating that Kluwe “would wind up burning in hell with the gays, and that the only truth was Jesus Christ and the Bible.”

So why is Kluwe writing the article now? He answers that question very clearly;

“If there's one thing I hope to achieve from sharing this story, it's to make sure that Mike Priefer never holds a coaching position again in the NFL, and ideally never coaches at any level. It's inexcusable that someone would use his status as a teacher and a role model to proselytize on behalf of his own doctrine of intolerance, and I hope he never gets another opportunity to pass his example along to anyone else. I also hope that Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman (the Vikings General Manager) take a good look in the mirror and ask themselves if they are the people they truly profess themselves to be.”

Kluwe closes out the article by writing;

“Thank you for taking the time to read my story. Never be afraid to do what's right. If no one ever says anything, nothing ever changes. —Chris Kluwe, former NFL player


UPDATE -- Mike Priefer has issued a statement denying Chris Kluwe's allegations. The full text of the statement is below.

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.


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit magazine at www.Bostonspiritmagazine.com

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About the author: Boston Spirit Magazine’s daily blog brings you all of the information you need on New England’s LGBT community. In addition to highlighting local and national LGBT news, we will also highlight local leaders from the worlds of business, politics, fashion and entertainment and keep you up-to-date on all the latest events and parties, hot spots for travel, shopping, dining, and more!
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