Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer is denying former punter Chris Kluwe’s claims that the two of them butted heads over Kluwe’s advocacy of gay marriage, and that Priefer used homophobic language around Kluwe.
“I vehemently deny today’s allegations made by Chris Kluwe,” Priefer said in a statement, via Paul Allen of KFAN. “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, who gained widespread attention during the 2012 season for his advocacy of gay marriage and his outspoken opposition to anti-gay bigotry, wrote today that he was subjected to homophobic abuse from Priefer. Kluwe, who called Priefer a “bigot,” believes that he was cut because the team sided with Priefer over him on the matter.
The Vikings (who still employ Priefer even though they fired his boss, head coach Leslie Frazier, this week) have vowed to investigate Kluwe’s accusations.