Hours after former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe alleged that he was subjected to homophobic language and eventually cut because he vocally supported gay marriage, the team released a statement saying the former allegation is a serious matter, but the latter allegation is totally false.
Although the Vikings say they will investigate claims that special teams coordinator Mike Priefer used homophobic language around Kluwe after Kluwe began speaking out in favor of gay rights, the team also says he was cut for football reasons, period.
“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,” the team said in a statement. “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.”
Kluwe believes the Vikings decided to cut him because Priefer, General Manager Rick Spielman and former head coach Leslie Frazier were uncomfortable with his gay rights activism. The Vikings say he was cut because they thought rookie Jeff Locke was better than him.
“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,” the statement said.
The Vikings have promised to look into Kluwe’s allegations and have further comment once they have investigated the matter.