The Vikings have taken the late Friday afternoon bad-news dump to the next level, releasing well after the close of business in most American time zones a statement summarizing the investigation and actions to be taken regarding former punter Chris Kluwe’s allegations against the team. Also released was a 29-page memo from an outside law firm analyzing the results of the investigation.
By Monday morning, most of the steam coming from the report and memo will have dissipated. Until then, most media outlets won’t have the resources in place to give the materials the full and complete review and examination they deserve.
While portions of the 29-page memo help the Vikings’ position both in the court of public opinion and in a court of law, the Vikings also have conceded that Kluwe’s claims regarding homophobic remarks from special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer were in part accurate. And the 29-page memo reveals that Priefer gave two different versions to investigators regarding one of the most inflammatory remarks attributed to him.
Among other things, Kluwe contends that Priefer said in November 2012, “We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.” In his first interview with investigators on January 6, 2014, Priefer “categorically denied” making the statement.
After long snapper Cullen Loeffler told investigators that he recalled Priefer making that remark on the practice field at the team’s facility, Priefer told investigators, “If [Loeffler] remembers me saying something on the practice field, I am not going to disagree with it.” But Priefer insisted the comment was a “joke between three people, three men.”
Setting aside for now the search for a punchline in the sentiment that all gay men should be exiled to an island that is then detonated with a thermonuclear device, the Vikings have opted to give Priefer a pass on potential wrongdoing independent of the things he may have said in Kluwe’s presence. Some employers regard dishonesty in the context of an official investigation as grounds for immediate termination, and the facts as summarized in the memo support a finding that Priefer initially failed to tell the truth when under the impression that, as to the “nuke” remark, it was his word against Kluwe’s.
Given that the arguable falsehood was told while Priefer’s ongoing employment was in jeopardy following the firing of head coach Leslie Frazier and the uncertainty regarding his successor, it’s fair to wonder whether Priefer would have been retained by Mike Zimmer if Priefer had told the truth in January, instead of in May.
It’s also fair to wonder whether Priefer will be one-and-done under Zimmer, especially if Zimmer knows that he wouldn’t have kept Priefer if Priefer had admitted making comments about “nuking” the gays.
It’s even more fair to wonder why the memo fails to address whether Preifer denied or admitted making multiple other homophobic remarks in Kluwe’s presence, including that Kluwe will “burn in hell with the gays” and contending that two men kissing is “disgusting” and “just gross.” Did Priefer “categorically deny” making those remarks? Did he regard them as jokes?
Thus, while plenty of answers have been revealed by the Vikings, new questions have emerged — and there’s a decent chance that coe January 2015 the Vikings will have a new special-teams coordinator.