When a disgruntled former employee decides to file a lawsuit against a billion-dollar business, the billion-dollar business usually doesn’t quietly take the punches. The billion-dollar business eventually starts pushing back, by among other things looking for anything and everything that can be used to make the disgruntled former employee look hypocritical or disingenuous or generally bad.
That process started last night for former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, with the team finally pushing back against the man who claimed that he was subjected to homophobic remarks and ultimately cut because of his gay-rights activism. The 29-page memo analyzing the investigation that was conducted by outside lawyers includes the arguably relevant but potentially gratuitous reference to Kluwe mocking the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal at Penn State by putting a hole in the back of Kluwe’s shorts and calling himself a Sandusky victim.
“I haven’t decided yet if that’s a roundabout ad hominem [attack], or moving the goalposts,” Kluwe wrote on Twitter in response to the allegation.
It’s a little of both, operating under the legal cover of showing that Kluwe couldn’t have found special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer’s remarks about homosexuality offensive if Kluwe saw fit to joke about the commission of homosexual acts by a grown man on boys. Try as Kluwe’s lawyer might to keep that evidence out of any trial that may occur, the judge will be inclined to let the jury hear it, so that the jury can properly assess whether Kluwe took legitimate offense to Priefer’s comments — or whether Kluwe is seizing upon anything he can to challenge the decision to cut him.
Either way, Kluwe has opted to take the back-and-forth to the next level.
“And yeah, if the Vikings want to play dirty, we can talk about ALL sorts of stuff,” Kluwe said on Twitter last night. Then came an unexpected bombshell.
“Oooh, shall we talk about the time two very well known Vikings players were caught in a compromising situation with an underage girl?” Kluwe said. “Bet you didn’t hear about that one in the news. We can do this all day, Vikings. Special teams hears *everything*. But we’ll save all that for the trial. It’ll be more fun that way.”
Kluwe may not get the luxury of waiting for the trial. At the latest, he’ll be grilled about the topic during his pre-trial deposition, especially since he has flagged an issue that the questioning from the team’s lawyers may have not otherwise uncovered. (Which is one of the reasons why we suggested last night that Kluwe zip it on Twitter.)
At the earliest, Kluwe possibly will be hearing from law enforcement officials who will demand to know more about the situation, including the names of the “two very well known Vikings players” who were “caught in a compromising situation with an underage girl.” Which, unless Kluwe is making it up or unless he wants to risk obstruction of justice charges by refusing to disclose the names to the authorities, will expose those “two very well known Vikings players” to an very awkward interview with police at best and criminal charges at worst.
Though the details change from case to case, this is what happens when a former employee decides to pick a fight with a billion-dollar business. In a high-profile situation like this one, it becomes critical for the former employee to speak very carefully — or ideally not at all.