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Vikings walk fine line in justifying Kluwe release

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Over the past two days, I’ve been trying to strike the right balance when it comes to determining how many blurbs to post from the 29-page memo analyzing the results of the investigation conducted by the Vikings in response to various allegations made by former punter Chris Kluwe.  It’s not nearly as delicate as the balance the Vikings have tried to strike in justifying the decision to cut Kluwe in 2013.

The management-side law firm hired by the Vikings to analyze the investigation gives the Vikings a path through the litigation mine field that could nevertheless cause an explosion or two.

“The record does not support the claim that the Vikings released Kluwe because of his activism on behalf of marriage equality, but instead because of his declining punting performance in 2012 and potentially because of the distraction caused by Kluwe’s activism, as opposed to the substance of such,” the report concludes.

On one hand, it makes sense. If a man who plays a position with low demand, high supply, and little interplay among the other 10 players on the field creates a distraction, it becomes very easy to find someone who will do the same job nearly as well without a distraction. But when the actual or perceived distraction arises from legally protected activity, it becomes difficult to separate the distraction from the activity.

Under that theory, any player whose presence creates a distraction could be released, regardless of whether the distraction comes from, for example, homosexuality, disease, disability, or membership in an obscure, unpopular, and/or controversial religious group. If Kluwe, for example, belonged to a satanic cult, that would be a distraction. And it would be hard to fire him based on the distraction caused by the religious beliefs without creating the impression that he actually was being fired because of those beliefs.

Coupled with a specious analysis of his 2012 punting skills, Kluwe’s upcoming claim for wrongful discharge could be much stronger than a legal theory based on special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer creating a hostile work environment by making homophobic remarks, especially in light of Kluwe’s admitted workplace conduct.  But the question of whether Kluwe’s jokes about the Jerry Sandusky scandal show that Kluwe wasn’t offended by Priefer’s remarks won’t matter when the time comes to assess the philosophical question of whether the protected activity and the distraction arising from it are one in the same.

If they are, Kluwe easily could win in court.

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60 Responses to “Vikings walk fine line in justifying Kluwe release”
  1. thenewguy12 says: Jul 20, 2014 12:21 PM

    And I’m sure their obscenely high priced lawyers will help them walk that line like pros.

  2. thepftpoet says: Jul 20, 2014 12:22 PM

    The BEST franchise in sports will prosper.

    And our history proves that we do.

    We win.

    Whether it’s a game, or a civil lawsuit.

    It’s in the Minnesota Vikings DNA.

    Victory.
    Class.
    Legacy.

  3. numba1wiscosportsfan says: Jul 20, 2014 12:25 PM

    Man. Kleuwe is really going overboard! It’s football, son. Not a LAN party. Heh.

  4. guitarfreak21 says: Jul 20, 2014 12:26 PM

    Kluwe is the epitome of worthless.

  5. osiris33 says: Jul 20, 2014 12:27 PM

    Kluwe, your NFL career is over. The sooner you face that reality and move on to selling insurance instead of bad mouthing good people to keep your dream alive the better.

  6. doctorrustbelt says: Jul 20, 2014 12:31 PM

    The minnesota vikings and the washington racial slurs will continue experiencing their KARMIC IMPLOSIONS due to their evil transgressions.

  7. themeccalambeaufield says: Jul 20, 2014 12:32 PM

    A morally bankrupt franchise not only has a known bigoted coach on the payroll, a corrupt owner, and now a franchise that allegedly covered up a felony to protect a couple players. At what point does the NFL revoke ownership?

  8. dewthedrew00 says: Jul 20, 2014 12:33 PM

    Lmao Vikings aren’t the BEST franchise in history

  9. Frazier28/7 says: Jul 20, 2014 12:34 PM

    The fact is nobody cared after they drafted the rookie punter, watched him for a weekend rookie minicamp and cut Kluwe on monday. The fact that his play declined was noticable to everyone, he was constantly on local radio talking about his band, video games or some other stupid hobby. The gay marriage thing was never really discussed in the local media until kluwe brought it up months after his release from the raiders.

    His play regressed badly in the last two years, constantly kluwe would shank a punt late in games putting the defense in a bad position and never was in the top for averages at his position. He had good numbers earlier in his career with the brad childress run, run, incomplete pass punt offensive scheme but his production slowly decreased, and he became easily expendable and was replaced by the rookie.

    Nobody in Minnesota cares about this guy anymore and he’s running out of money, if this Pfiefer guy did say what he said then thats unfortunate and he’s been suspended. The fans are more concerend with the new stadium, new coaching staff, new defensive players and the new rookie quarterback. Kluwe is a side joke and an obnoxious punk from california that never put hard work into his craft anyway. Give him a couple million dollars in a settlement and have a good laugh when he files for bankruptcy in 203 years anyway.

    It’s time to get back to football, have a nice life kluwe and just be gone from the game pro football forever. Oh, yeah, and your band sucks and you can’t write.

  10. mrlaloosh says: Jul 20, 2014 12:35 PM

    Kluwe should just go away. Your just not good enough. The Raiders found that out pretty quickly. Trying to be a martyr is self-serving narcissisum.

  11. thestrategyexpert says: Jul 20, 2014 12:36 PM

    Here’s another way to look at the case…

    Imagine you are faced with needing to cross a vast and densely populated mine field. You can take your chances and if you have enough participants then you can easily eventually clear a path through trial and error. Or you could hire a specialist that can identify and disarm the mines. Which way is better?

    What if you were given a 3rd option instead, and that option was to not have to risk detonating any mines in any event due to a settlement offer for peace? Which of these 3 ways would you rather see come about? Some lives sacrificed, or tactfully circumventing the field such that a winner and loser emerges, or not play the deadly game to begin with?

    I’d pick the 3rd option and look for ways to work things out such that nobody needs to assemble a mine field again, or even manufacture the mines themselves. Then nobody has to live in fear of dangerous dynamics.

    Peace wins, flawless victory.

  12. jimmy53 says: Jul 20, 2014 12:36 PM

    The Vikings are playing with fire—Kluwe has proved time and again what people think about him or his views. The Vikings have a whole lot more to lose than Kluwe. He has no problem speaking his mind and talking about what he believes—most of the posters on here believe he is just out for attention as opposed to simply using his platform to speak out in favor of equal rights for all.

    I say–who cares? Just because you doubt the motives behind his words—doesn’t mean that what he is saying is wrong…

    Keep it up…

  13. jimmy53 says: Jul 20, 2014 12:38 PM

    typo (sorry): Kluwe has proved time and again that he doesn’t care what people think about him or his views.

  14. bassplucker says: Jul 20, 2014 12:39 PM

    Kluwe was doing subpar work… creating division among his teammates… and causing headaches for his bosses.

    I don’t know about anyone else here, but at any place I’ve ever worked that’s a pretty safe recipe for getting fired.

  15. fwippel says: Jul 20, 2014 12:53 PM

    You left out the most obvious reason for Kluwe’s release: his salary. How many punters earned $1.45 million last year?

  16. 12hawksfan1976 says: Jul 20, 2014 12:53 PM

    Losing Super Bowl is what’s in the Vikings DNA.

    0-4.

    Four Fails.

    Outlook: More of the same for as far as the eye can see.

  17. revelation123 says: Jul 20, 2014 1:02 PM

    Not that I agree with it, but it’s completely legal to say racist things, and people get fired for that all the time.

  18. abninf says: Jul 20, 2014 1:03 PM

    Kleuwe cut a hole in his underwear, ran around the locker room showing his butt to everyone while making fun of kids getting raped at Penn St. That alone is grounds for getting the axe. Matter of fact, I would have pressed sexual harassment charges on him.

  19. yesrowntreeyesgrosvener says: Jul 20, 2014 1:05 PM

    Easily? I doubt it. Kluwe is his own worst enemy in this case. He has a long, long history of obnoxious behavior and desperate attention seeking that has nothing to do with his gay rights activism (the rock band immediately comes to mind). He could not make a single NFL team after being cut by the Vikings (of course, in his narcissistic worldview, that means he was blackballed). His stats were down and his price was up. End of story.

    Outside of strictly legal arguments, how can anyone defend this guy as sincere anymore? He’s offended by anti-gay statements, but doesn’t find child molestation to be off-limits? He excoriates the Vikings for allowing a supposed bigot to roam the hallways, yet admits to having knowledge of statutory rape and not calling the police?

    He’s a histrionic, tireless advocate for Chris Kluwe. Nothing more, nothing less.

  20. schrutebeetfarms says: Jul 20, 2014 1:14 PM

    Is Kluwe currently punting in the league? if not I think his punting must not be anything special.

  21. ariani1985 says: Jul 20, 2014 1:15 PM

    Come to green bay chris! You would easily start on this horrible defense!

  22. tokyosandblaster says: Jul 20, 2014 1:16 PM

    Horrible franchise. Worst in sports.

    >

  23. bigjdve says: Jul 20, 2014 1:16 PM

    One of the biggest things to help the Vikings in their claim is that Kluwe didn’t even make it to the season with the Raiders.

    Another thing is that the Vikings did the same thing with Longwell, they drafted a replacement and then cut him. Longwell was not an activist.

    Performance was the base reason. Their replacement did a similar job but for 1/3 the cost. That is how business works. If you can have someone do the job for 1/3 the cost AND not give you the same amount of headaches – he didn’t stand a chance.

  24. stellarperformance says: Jul 20, 2014 1:19 PM

    Kluge is an ant fighting an army of anteaters wearing suits and ties. It will be difficult for him to prevail, but I hope he does.

  25. stevent92 says: Jul 20, 2014 1:22 PM

    Are the Raiders going to be named as co-defendents, being as they couldn’t find a place for him on their roster last year either?

  26. tokyofilthblaster says: Jul 20, 2014 1:26 PM

    Why do the Vikings always finish in last place?

  27. themeccalambeaufield says: Jul 20, 2014 1:27 PM

    Viking fans living in the perpetual state of denial. Regardless of the reason Kluwe was let go his statements regarding your bigoted coach were obviously spot on and supported by another player. That’s why your team is scrambling to cover themselves with a suspension of the coach. Instead of focusing on Kluwe try looking a little deeper at the real issue and how it began. Now another door has been opened regarding the underage sexual cover up, its about to get a whole lot worse.

  28. notthetroll says: Jul 20, 2014 1:37 PM

    He’s a bad punter who trumped up allegations about his favorite activist cause, nothing more.

  29. edgewaterjoe says: Jul 20, 2014 1:46 PM

    If the Vikings are admitting IN THEIR OWN LEGAL ANALYSIS that Kluwe’s activism (and sorry to the rest of you, but it’s called ‘activism’) was a factor in this release, they are toast. There are plenty of statistics to argue whether Kluwe was a decent punter or not, so that will be a wash. The Sandusky stuff is wholly irrelevant – if anything, it’s more damning to the Vikings because if Kluwe was that horrible why didn’t they release him on the spot for that action? Classic example of taking a bad situation and throwing gasoline on it. Nice job, Vikes.

  30. shlort says: Jul 20, 2014 1:48 PM

    Kluwe is a whiner. That is the long and short of it. He wasn’t good enough to hold his roster spot or land anywhere else, so it is someone elses fault. Typical liberal actions really.

    The media has a liberal bias and is obviously taking Kluwe’s side on this issue. Reality is, his big fat mouth and lack of pro ability is what cost him his job. Not to mention teams are smart enough to know that a younger guy will kick a few balls a game for way less than Kluwe would have cost.

  31. sonofad says: Jul 20, 2014 1:51 PM

    We’ve finally stumbled across a subject that Vikings fans know even less about than football.

  32. duluthvikesfan says: Jul 20, 2014 1:58 PM

    His playing ability was slipping. He was overpaid. A better (and cheaper) replacement could be had. And he couldn’t make the roster of any other team. Yet he waits a year after all of this, without even a hint of anything he is now claiming, before causing this mess. Ad to this the findings of his actions in the locker room with the mocking of the Sandusky victims (cuts the seat out of his pants and parades around a locker room yet claims to not remember doing so only a couple years later. Yeah, right…) and all I see is a bitter cry baby who thinks he is right about everything and is never at fault with anything in life. I not only hope he gets nothing in court, I hope the Vikings find a way to go after him!

  33. taintedsaints2009 says: Jul 20, 2014 1:59 PM

    Then I suppose Ryan longwell should also sue the team as well for being cut? How about all players that get cut sue the organization?

  34. pipkinite says: Jul 20, 2014 2:06 PM

    the Vikings walk a fine line calling themselves a NFL team.

  35. rgledz says: Jul 20, 2014 2:17 PM

    Teams cut players for no reason all of the time! Why is this instance any different. Why does anything have to be proven? NFL contracts are NOT guaranteed, getting released is inherently part of he deal. If my team was paying a punter that much money and I could get a rookie who is just as effective for millions less……why wouldn’t I!? They cut Longwell and went with Walsh for the same reason…….do they have to prove something in that as well or is it just what it is……a cost cutting effort. Seriously, go somewhere Kluwe. If you were good enough there are plenty of other teams that would sign you, but there aren’t…….you’re done, accept it and stop trying to drag down others with you.

  36. f1restarter says: Jul 20, 2014 2:20 PM

    The Vikings are entertaining.

    They’re not a good football team and they’ll never win a championship, but they’re definitely entertaining.

    Stick it to ‘em, Kluwe!

  37. craziestcanuck says: Jul 20, 2014 2:43 PM

    When this issue first broke Kluwe claimed that Priefer told him to take something off his punts (and then scored him down for it) because he was outkicking their coverage

    Now assuming thats true, why would the Vikings pay a premium for an experienced punter when they have a rookie (cheaper) alternative? Even if we assume Kluwe was a top 3 punter in the league, by Kluwe’s own admission, the Vikings didnt need a good punter

    Now why doesnt this angle get any play anymore? Of course Kluwe isnt going to admit the Vikings had football reasons to cut him. And of course the Vikings wont denigrate their own special teams play by bringing this up as an issue

    There were obvious football reasons to cut Kluwe. Everything else about his activism and his beliefs is a non-story. And for what its worth, thats coming from someone whos on his side politically

  38. drwbrsdmndsnxplntn says: Jul 20, 2014 2:43 PM

    What if he was a National Socialist sympathizer and was released for his views? This is AMERICA. It doesn’t matter what his views are, they can release him for whatever reason they want.

    It wasn’t his views, it was he was annoying about them, that and the Ray Guy thing, the guy was a distraction, and regardless weather it was reflected in the numbers, he dorked a few crucial punts and it was clear he wasn’t worth the money. Period.

    This country man, over the last couple years it’s like it’s run by a bunch of middle school girls. Ostraciszing non-conformists from the pack, that’s not America, and people that actually believe that Kluwe has a case here suck at America.

  39. iamdinguskhan says: Jul 20, 2014 2:45 PM

    Please hurry regular season!! This offseason has been full of mouthy back up quarterbacks and punters a number of NFL players getting arrested, and constant press coverage of a trying to get a team to change their name even though nobody wants the name changed.

  40. afcdomination says: Jul 20, 2014 2:53 PM

    sometimes teams move on though. its really hard when your job has only 32 openings and every year 3-5 legitimate candidates come forth to take one of those 32 jobs.

    they did it for a number of reasons. the Vikings liked their younger punter, Kluwe is NOT a Colquitt brother. I am sorry, but unless you are in the top 10 at your position for inside the 20, or NET, I don’t see a reason for teams to keep you over the promising young kid

  41. Aaron Rodgers has Tiny Hands says: Jul 20, 2014 2:53 PM

    There are any number of reasons why Kluwe should have been cut, not the least of which is he’s the most annoying person on the face of the earth. He created a distraction with everything he did, not just the gay marriage thing. All the Vikings have to do is show all the distraction he created. If one of them was a legally protected activity, it isn’t going to hold much weight against the mountain of other things he did.

  42. oldcracker says: Jul 20, 2014 2:55 PM

    Vikings walk a fine line in justifying their claim in being a professional football team. Well, maybe in Canada.

  43. sw19womble says: Jul 20, 2014 2:57 PM

    Rightly or wrongly, the Vikings’ strategy seems to be to win the battle at all costs, and overall war be damned.

    Kluwe’s strategy seems to be not caring whether he wins or loses, but willing to inflict maximum damage “on a matter of principle”.

    *draws up deckchair and extra large bucket of popcorn*

  44. nflpoker says: Jul 20, 2014 3:07 PM

    Kluwe, who????

  45. vikechurch says: Jul 20, 2014 3:15 PM

    all sports teams have been cutting players for being a pain in the ass for years. if your a superstar they ll put up with it if your an ageing punter that can be replaced with a younger cheaper player your gone.

  46. kilofox2014 says: Jul 20, 2014 3:20 PM

    Kluwe is a bitter tool. He was told to tone his activism down but refused. He had vile vulgar rants on his Twitter page. He was told to kick away from certain returners and refused. Any company who has an employee that doesn’t abide by the rules is fired. You can have your beliefs..but when they start to interfere with the company image you cross the line.

  47. purpleppleeaters says: Jul 20, 2014 3:32 PM

    Finances, alone, are reason enough, and there is no fine line, there.
    Kluwe was replaced by a punter that more than matched his skills, at a pay rate that was far lower.
    Running an NFL team is still a business, and each team operates under a salary cap.
    All other criteria aside, this, alone, is quite enough.

  48. bobnelsonjr says: Jul 20, 2014 4:09 PM

    1) The vikings have a lot to lose in this battle.

    2) Kluwe has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

    3) The vikings have a scandal every season. Some larger than others. Frankly, their image is so bad that mishandling another scandal will not make much difference in the number of people that laugh at them.

    4) The big issue in this minefield is how much shrapnel, parts, and dirt land on the NFL shield and other franchises. Their can be a lot of unintended damage and changes coming to the NFL as a whole because of this scandal.

    Who knows what crazy stuff might become the new “vikings rule” that teams have to abide by.

    5) All the vikings dirt/NFL dirt will be made public because the vikings CHOSE NOT TO SETTLE the matter.

    6) Who knows what current and former players will testify regarding the vikings (for example Chris Cook regarding how his 2 arrests were handled by the vikings, what Adrian Peterson meant when he said working for the vikings was like slavery, Tavaris Jackson, etc).

    It can easily spawn multiple new investigations.

    7) Can’t wait to see what is in various e-mails and internal communications regarding players’ behaviors and arrests? There will be lots of good stuff there.

    8) Buy popcorn futures. This will be very entertaining up until the fallout leads to rule changes.

  49. icedvike5000 says: Jul 20, 2014 4:21 PM

    Kluwe should be a politician, he would be good at false propaganda. And since when has the gay marriage issue been settled in this country? It has not regardless of the laws put in place. There will still always be people who will disagree with gay behavior and relationships. Mr Priefer said something in jest that has probably been said a thousand times at any given workplace across the country. And lets not forget that it is the players who start this crap, not the ownership or the Vikings. Kluwe caused too many PR problems for the Vikings and put them in this situation. They did not ask for it, nor did kluwe ever try to tone it down. The Vikings had an out with his production and his pricetag, and used it, just as any other team in the NFL would do under the circumstances. If i were the Vikings, i would not have suspended Priefer, or give Mr Kluwe one cent of money. He belongs in the political arena, not the NFL.

  50. themeccalambeaufield says: Jul 20, 2014 4:55 PM

    Minneanderthal Vikings and their fans still in denial.

  51. FinFan68 says: Jul 20, 2014 5:50 PM

    But when the actual or perceived distraction arises from legally protected activity, it becomes difficult to separate the distraction from the activity.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    This is part of the issue. Kluwe has no standing even though you imply that he does. In order to receive the protections offered to certain groups you must first actually belong to a protected class. A gay person is protected from discrimination. A straight person who supports gay rights is not in a protected class. It is basically like a white guy that claims racial discrimination (against black people) because he has black friends. It doesn’t work that way but for some reason Kluwe is treated like he is being discriminated against for being gay.

    Kluwe has an opinion that supports gay rights. Priefer has an opinion that does not. Neither opinion holds any special protection other than the basic governmental free speech stuff. You can’t say that one guy should not have been cut for having an opinion and then demand the other guy be fired or suspended for having a contrary opinion. The opinions hold the same legal weight.

  52. politicallyincorrect says: Jul 20, 2014 6:41 PM

    so why would any team sign a gay player if they can not be released like normal players?

    gays do not want equal rights, they want special rights and protections

    did this past election not teach us that we can not afford to limit our pool of talent based on non merit and achievement criterium

  53. richie078 says: Jul 20, 2014 6:52 PM

    Does this mean that Justin Tuck can sue the New York Giants for not being resigned? What about other players?

  54. FinFan68 says: Jul 20, 2014 7:34 PM

    politicallyincorrect says:
    Jul 20, 2014 6:41 PM
    so why would any team sign a gay player if they can not be released like normal players?

    gays do not want equal rights, they want special rights and protections
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I agree with you here to a certain degree. What the movement is all about is money not “equal rights”. Being allowed to be recognized as “married” is meaningless. The ability to receive benefits from that designation is really why most want recognition. Spousal death benefits, ability to sue for medical malpractice (for death/loss of spousal consortium), tax breaks, etc. Once they achieve status they will move on to make that status retroactive. That would allow an enormous number of people to file some sort of suit from a wrong received decades back. Pandora’s box is waiting to be opened by some short-sighted judge.

  55. truths4all says: Jul 20, 2014 9:53 PM

    NOW the Vikes will make the playoffs because the cancer that had resided in their locker room for the past few years is gone! Same for the Fins, as they finally played better after their complaining and whining locker room cancer left the team to go home and cry to mommy because mean guys verbally made fun of him.

  56. bong815 says: Jul 20, 2014 11:45 PM

    @osiris33 I presume you mean by “good people” the clown coach who was suspended without pay.

  57. aug99 says: Jul 20, 2014 11:54 PM

    THAT GUY SHOULD HAVE BEEN LET GO A LONG TIME AGO.

  58. lawson1974 says: Jul 21, 2014 12:14 PM

    I am not sure if the write is being disingenuous or not, but as a lawyer he knows better.

    Some of the things he lists such as disability, religion, etc. are protected classes against employment discrimination, political views are not protected.

    It may lead to bad PR, but you are one hundred percent allowed to fire an employee over their political activism.

  59. My2Cents2.0 says: Jul 21, 2014 12:39 PM

    Mike, you didn’t include in the salary vs performance factor. Trending down performance trending up salary= cut on many teams. No court will find against this equation used in the NFL.

    Also, when Kluwe gets on the stand the defense will shred him. He can’t remember if he cut a hole in his pants and mocked child abuse (because that demeans him as a human being) BUT he can remember verbatim words said on a playing field; words which if believed benefit him. Which is it Kluwe you can remember or you can only remember what you choose to remember.

    Lastly and I’m done. Many evil people believe that Gays are child molesters. Here we have the legal bills being paid for Kluwe by the Gay alliance. Kluwe with his childish, class clown actions brings that very stereotype to the forefront of the media.
    When the pictures of Kluwe’s bare butt start going viral the damage will just increase.

  60. Josie Varga says: Jul 21, 2014 10:38 PM

    as his career is over..and because of his mouth..he has no hope for a football-related career in either coaching or commentating..thus needs to resort to a $10mm lawsuit to try and get some lifetime income..

    Sadly, the vikes will ultimately settle to shut him up for about 2-4 million..

    Get lost Kluwe.. get a real job

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