Retention of Priefer will prompt Kluwe lawsuit


Now that the Vikings have officially retained special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer despite the complaints made about him by former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, Kluwe’s lawyer is rattling the lawsuit sword.

“My one word description is ‘outrageous,'” attorney Clayton Halunen told Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

“It’s almost unimaginable that there’s a pending investigation regarding whether or not this guy engaged in homophobic, hate-filled behavior and without even a conclusion in the findings they’ve retained this person as a coach, as a leader.”

Halunen said it’s “just a matter of when” litigation commences.  “That’s the only question in my mind now,” Halunen said.  “Do we immediately file suit or do we wait and see if we get the confirmation we get from their supposed investigation?”

The lawyer, and presumably his client, believe that the decision to keep Priefer makes the investigation “a mere charade,” and that the team ultimately will “cover up” the situation involving Priefer allegedly making homophobic remarks to Kluwe, and involving the Vikings allegedly cutting Kluwe because of his support for gay rights.

If/when a lawsuit is filed, the first skirmish will entail whether Kluwe should be required to pursue his rights under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which would take the controversy out of the court system.  In response, Kluwe will argue that the CBA doesn’t include a clear and unmistakable waiver of his ability to sue for retaliation based on his support for gay rights, which is now a protected class under both federal law and Minnesota law.  Even though Kluwe isn’t gay, he’s most likely protected against adverse job action arising from his support for gay rights.

The Vikings’ ultimate defense will be that Kluwe was a descending player and that his activities had nothing to do with the decision.  The better approach could be to acknowledge that, as a player’s skills diminish, any distractions created by the player (regardless of origin) make the player subject to being replaced.

Of course, that would invite a comprehensive review of every situation in which the Vikings have kept players who have created the ultimate distraction of being arrested.  While the truth may be that those players were deemed to be good enough to keep around, a jury may not react favorably to the idea that an NFL team will make excuses for accused criminals while simultaneously dumping a guy who possibly would have been good enough to keep punting if he hadn’t become such a high-profile advocate for gay rights.

Also helping the Vikings will be that the Raiders cut him, too, and that no one else signed Kluwe at any point in the 2013 season.  Kluwe most likely will argue that he was essentially blackballed by the NFL after being dumped by the Vikings.

91 responses to “Retention of Priefer will prompt Kluwe lawsuit

  1. Kluwe was due 3 million dollars as the 20th something ranked punter in the previous season before.

    Russel Wilson only made 700k this year.

    Kluwe, get you and your band out of here, grab ponders things too. Leave Sam ponders stuff though.

  2. Kluwe has no standing here. He needs to understand that he’s fighting for a loser’s cause and he’s proven to be nothing but a demagogue. Kluwe has no right to gripe about Priefer’s language.

  3. If a punter can sue for getting cut for any reason whatsoever, the NFL is in trouble. Punters are probably the most transient position in the NFL. They get cut all the time for all sorts of reasons.

    All the Vikings have to do to defend themselves is compare the salaries of Kluwe and whoever replaced him.

  4. Let him prove it. Vikings just need to sit on their hands. Even if he does prove a comment, he has to make the case of this tying to that. Good luck buddy., your gonna need a lot of cash to take on a billionaire.

  5. The vikings will run the nfl next season and this fool kluwe will not be apart of it.hes irrelevant yesterday news much like the shehawks and cheeseheads.The Viking dynasty waits for no one.SKOL

  6. “The better approach could be to acknowledge that, as a player’s skills diminish, any distractions created by the player (regardless of origin) make the player subject to being replaced.”

    Love Boat
    Randy Moss
    Jeff George

    Vikings would have a hard time making that argument.

  7. What is he going to sue for? There’s no way that Kluwe and his lawyers will be able to prove that he was let go for anything outside of a football decision for so many reasons that I can’t list them all in this post. Ok, so Priefer said some things with bad taste. None of them were directed at Kluwe himself, nor did they specifically target any individual. It’s not a crime to think/say things with bad taste. Can it lose you your job? Yes. Is an employer required by law to fire that person? Not in the slightest. Kluwe has no leg to stand on and for a guy that smart, you would think he’d realize this whole things is a money grab by his attorneys. They are just egging him on. Save the money and face Kluwe. You will be the one who looks dumb at the end of this.

  8. If there was tort reform Klueless would be making noise… When you are no longer an asset you become expendable.. Chris didn’t they teach you this in college ?

  9. From a vikings fan: You were an awful punter, and overpaid, so we let you go. Stop using your support of gay rights as an excuse for getting released, as for priefer, you never complained till after being cut which sounds a bit suspicious. Just leave the NFL alone, and enjoy the money you made that you don’t deserve.

  10. Why did the Vikings cut you? “Because of my gay marriage stance.”

    Why did the Raiders cut you? “Just because I sucked.”

    Got it.

  11. While I can respect someone who stood for what they believe even if I do not agree, Kluwes approach has always been quite arrogant. So no matter how rude he was or how much effort he spent getting people to pay attention to him for sake of his ego, he was cut for being overpriced and under performing.

    This response is a continuation of the behavior he has demonstrated for years where he will do whatever it takes to get people to pay attention to him, and this behavior does nothing to advance any cause he is focused on. So please Chris go away and find other ways to lobby for things important to you without these silly antics that serve nothing but stroking your ego.

  12. If this issue was all related to the Vikings and their bias and discrimination, why couldn’t this bum get a job with other teams. He got other tryouts, got beat out by a ROOKIE who makes less money…

    This guy sucks and so does his motivation.

    Vikings were right to cut his ass. Not only was he a negative impact on the gay issue, he also caused problems with the Ray Guy deal and other “white board notes and activity”.

    You wanted to be a loud mouth punter that was “making a difference” then live with the consequences with your negative actions.

    Vikings should sue his ass for defamation.

    Klue, get the hell out of the NFL and figure out your life you loser.

  13. When you don’t have a legal leg to stand on, you yell as loud as you can and try to get public opinion on your side. Even if Priefer did say what Kluwe alleges, which I doubt, that isn’t grounds for dismissal. Is it really “outrageous” that the Vikings would keep him on? When a player or coach creates a distraction, the team has to weigh the negative of the distraction against the positive of the player/coach’s abilities. Kluwe wasn’t worth keeping; Priefer is.

  14. Evidently Kluwe has discovered that playing video games and Guitar Hero don’t provide much of an income.

    Some people are just thick. Kluwe probably should have lost his job back in 2008 when despite being told to kick the ball out of bounds, he laid it in the lap of Devin Hester twice, and both were returned for touchdowns. You would have thought he’d have learned something but he must have figured the third time might be the charm and did it again. Hester just about turned it into a third touchdown. I remember the coaches going nuts and the announcers being totally befuddled at why Kluwe wasn’t learning from his mistakes or listening to anyone.

    This explains why Kluwe is doing what he is doing today. Reality and facts don’t mean much to a guy like that.

  15. Kluwe is constantly seeking relevance. As a punter he was irrelevant. As an average punter with diminished talent, who lost the NFL stage, he is even less relevant.

    He has chosen a hot button topic to try to achieve relevance. All he has to do is support a controversial, divisive issue, make outrageous statements, claims, and accusations and he thinks he is relevant.

    To the contrary, Kluwe is nothing but an angry, bitter, hateful attention seeker who will never be relevant, at least not in my mind.

  16. What a dumb thing for a lawyer to say. Without even speculating on what was said or done by Priefer, everybody deserves their day in court. Is Kluwe’s lawyer really saying Priefer shouldn’t have a job because he’s been accused of something? Even if you think Kluwe is 100% right and Priefer is a horrible person, it’s up to Kluwe to prove it and so far he hasn’t.

  17. Kluwe and Martin are going to sue the NFL because of their diminished talent level and cost. Nothing else. just trying to get another payday; and a bit of revenge against those who “offended” their politically correct sensibilities.

  18. Just let it go, PLEASE. Your comments you make may be with in freedom of speech but freedom of speech can also be annoying, which is what you are!!

  19. As a Minnesota fan and citizen, PLEASE go away and try to be a productive part of society. STOP pointing fingers at others and get ON with your life. We don’t care. Repeat, don’t care about your opinions and what happened two years ago. Stand tall and go forward in life with positive thoughts and if you want to back a cause you believe is being slighted by society then do it a DIFFERENT way! You were a punter in the NFL. Great! We loved you while you were here. We didn’t think you were good enough to keep around so we had to let you go. Get over it! Man up and find another career. Suing your employer for letting you go without regard to your mediocre stats is insane. Get some help and move on.

  20. What kind of circus is Zigy Wilf running? They go through QBs and coaches like nobody’s business and then there’s all of the off-field crap. If you’re going to own a team, how about putting in a little effort? Wilf is either incompetent or lazy or both.

  21. “…a jury may not react favorably to the idea that an NFL team will make excuses for accused criminals while simultaneously dumping a guy who possibly would have been good enough to keep punting if he hadn’t become such a high-profile advocate for gay rights.”

    So how on earth could that be the “better approach” for the Vikings to take?

  22. Kluwe just take the A-Rod route and drop the lawsuit. I’m starting to think you will have money problems soon. You got cut because of performance. At your age you had reached a ceiling the new guy have plenty more time to improve still.

  23. Kluwe won’t win but he does have one point. The Vikings can’t claim they cut him because he sucks. Then how do you explain why the Vikings kept Ponder and the entire defensive secondary?

  24. Yes the coach does have freedom of speach, but most work places don’t, don’t want you to say stuff like that. The PR would be less than flattering. The Vikings have a hard enough time looking good when it just comes to football.

    Regardless of what happens, it just goes to show the kind of people the Vikings hire, then keep around. What good do they think will come of this?

    Its a ST coach not a cordinator or HC, quit being silly and move on. Is this guy truly the difference between them making the SB or not?

  25. He doesn’t have a kluw when it comes to this… Go play some video games better yet play some guitar hero he’ll for sure be a winner in that aspect

  26. If my employee is exceptional at his job, and can’t easily be replaced I will tend to overlook his antics at work or away, and find a way to deal with it.
    However, if my employee is average and can be replaced at anytime, I will cut ties asap.
    This is what the Vikings did, and it’s totally justified.
    Chris, “It’s time to move on”.

  27. Kluwe is acting like the spoiled California brat he is! If you don’t fire Priefer because he “Offended Me” then I’ll sue you! I will sue you so fire him right now or I’ll sue you, I really really really Will sue you-is he fired yet??
    I remember vividly when the Vikings drafted his replacement that he acknowledged the “Business” end of this himself citing his age & salary due him & he said he understood it. At no time in that statement or anytime after did he mention these Priefer comments. Whether you agree with Kluwe’s or Priefer’s stance on Gay issues NO ONE should lose their job based on their own stance on ANY subject otherwise toss out the Constitution & consider yourself in Orwell’s 1984 where certain speech(thought crimes) are punished severely!

  28. I assume Kluwe is trying to be a “victim” of the work environment that was created by Priefer’s alleged anti-gay marriage comments.

    That said, if Kluwe’s walking around the Viking’s Facility promoting Gay marriage (we know he isn’t soft spoken) isn’t he creating a bad or threatening work environment for anyone who opposes Gay Marriage? For the record, I am very much in favor of Equal Marriage rights, but that has ZERO bearing on this.

  29. “Outrageous?” Oh, you mean with no real evidence that he engaged in “hate-filled behavior”—only Kluwe’s word? Oh, OK.

    As for lawsuits, Kluwe better get ready for one again HIM. If the allegations he makes are false and he knows they are false, he is going to get sued for defamation and slander. They were clearly malicious, as he talked about Priefer never getting hired anywhere again.

  30. threedeep1998 says: Feb 8, 2014 12:03 PM

    Can’t wait to see reactions of all bigots when Kluwe is proven to be in the right.

    So i’m a bigot because i’m glad Kluwe was cut because he stunk? Because he was told repeatidly to not punt the ball to Hester, and he continually punted to him. Giving up TD after TD to Hester?

    I’m a bigot because Kluwe was overpriced for his skill set? Because we could draft or sign a young free agent rookie punter who would cost us a fraction of the money Kluwe did, and get the job done as good or better than Kluwe did?

    Well, if that’s what it takes to be considered a bigot, then call me a bigot. But i’m going to call you UNQUALIFIED to comment on this, because you sir, don’t know anything about talent, salary cap, or the inner workings of an NFL franchise. And I think you should not comment anymore because of your lack of knowledge.

  31. When looking at the Vikings using the diminishing skills as motive to cut him they can point out that his directional punting skills had declined immensely as shown by his punts inside the 20 percentage.

    Also, in regards to the Raiders cutting him, King, who won the competition handily, went undrafted and couldnt make a team in his rookie season. In year 2, he competes against Kluwe and beats him easily as evidenced by their pre-season stats,
    “Oakland will go with Marquette King, an undrafted free agent out of Fort Valley State in 2012 who grossed 53.6 yards and netted 45.3 on seven punts in his second preseason with the Raiders.

    Kluwe’s seven preseason punts grossed 46.6 yards and netted 37.4.”.

  32. Kluwe needs to understand that his complaints are not related. He may very we’ll have a case regarding any comments made by Priefer, but this will not be found to have any connection with his release. By combining the two he is in fact selfishly diluting his equality case with his desire to get back at the team for releasing him for someone younger.

    The Vikings can use the success they had with drafting Blair Walsh and releasing Ryan Longwell the year before as reason enough for trying the same thing with a different position.

    As mentioned in the main story, Kluwe was signed and released by the Raiders before the season started, and that was apparently for performance reasons. As a vested veteran, he comes with a higher minimum salary, and teams like to invest in the kicking positions for the long term, not just a season. Younger, cheaper players fulfil this need better – unless you are looking for an injury replacement or stopgap. Had the right punter not been available to the Vikings in the draft, then the chances are that Kluwe would have been kept on – albeit with a restructured contract.

    The only time Priefer seemed annoyed with Kluwe, is when Kluwe kept breaking NFL policy by wearing Ray Guy for HoF stuff. this was always brought up in press coverage and interviews. Now that Ray Guy has finally made the HoF, perhaps Kluwe should take a step back and understand that he may have had some influence in bringing Ray Guy’s name to the forefront of discussions.

    Kluwe just seems a bit messed up at the moment, and perhaps his legal representation has his own agenda!

  33. Kluwe really is a friggin idiot. And honestly, its a slap in the face of anyone that truly does fight for civil rights for him to use it as a crutch or excuse for getting let go from his job. A very expensive (for a kicker/punter) player with diminishing skills, replaced by a younger player that can do the job just as well (if not better) at a significantly reduced cost. That is the nature of the NFL, not some grand conspiracy to blackball someone who is outspoken about civil rights for a particular group or cause.

    if by some chance they find an idiot judge that would find in favor of him, you’ve just opened a can of worms to the NFL that any player that gets cut could claim some form of discrimination as recourse against their former team. Kluwe just please go away. Maybe you can write a sequel to your Sparkle Pony book…

  34. This is why you can’t give people with a left-wing bent any power: Not only do they disagree with you, but they try to destroy you for doing so.

    At most the guy made a silly comment that he had no power to make a reality. Move along and lighten up.

  35. One thing that I and everyone else Ive read so far is overlooking, until now, is that Kluwe’s downfall coincides with a torn meniscus injury. He had the injury in 2007, and after the 2012 season he had surgery on the leg. We had been scouting punters in the 2012 season as Kluwe struggled with play and health. The Vikings could have easily deemed that following his surgery he was no longer worth his top punter salary, and had injury concerns because he twice had to have surgery on his knee for the same injury. It was clear that the surgery was form an old injury meaning that there was a distinct probability that he may need surgery in the future. Many fans were pining for Kluwe to be cut when the Vikings brought punters in during the 2012 season and signed one to a future contract after Kluwe started struggling. After his second surgery he was cut. A piano player with a bracken hand is as useful as a punter with a broken knee.

  36. Kluwe should be damn happy they kept Prieffer. Otherwise Prieffer would be able to sue Kluwe for libel and show his firing as the injury of Kluwe’s words. As it stands now nothing Kluwe has said can show to injure Prieffer.

  37. “Also helping the Vikings will be that the Raiders cut him, too, and that no one else signed Kluwe at any point in the 2013 season.”

    Not completely accurate. The Bengals tested him out in December of 2013 (you can see this off Kluwe’s own twitter timeline). They didn’t sign him. There was at least one report of him trying out for the Bears in October. 3 teams give a guy a shot who is supposedly blackballed? Child please.

  38. Kluwe has no standing here and his lawyer knows it, otherwise he wouldn’t be trying this case in the press.

    For starters, Kluwe had an off year in 2012, and he was scheduled to make $1.45 million in 2013. The Vikings found a rookie who cost more than $1 million less, and who could also kick off. That’s why Kluwe was cut.

    Finally, why does Kluwe feel justified in believing that he should have veto power over the Vikings choice of a special teams coach? That level of arrogance is really quite astounding.

  39. Kluwe says he was punished for voicing his opinion on a controversial subject. (I think he was cut because he was no longer a good punter but that is another topic) but now he wants to punish Priefer for expressing his opinion on the same controversial subject. Kluwe needs to buy a great big mirror and take a close look at himself in it. His political views aside, this is pretty hypocritical.

  40. This coach SAID something mean about gay people, so Kluwe is going to SUE?

    are you kidding me?

    Kluwe is going to sue the franchise that paid him MILLIONS of dollars to PUNT A FOOTBALL! all over some COMMENTS! you have got to be kidding me.

  41. 1 comment that sides on Kluwe’s view here. While majority isn’t always on the side of the right, it does speak volumes of how ridiculous his pursuit is.

  42. The world will need a transition period of like a decade to be politically correct on this issue. Most people I know use gay slurs all the time and guess what, none if them have any ill will to gay people or even know they’re being disrespectful. It’s ingrained into our culture. Kluwe or anybody else is nuts to be suing at this point. Maybe he needs to be doing something constructive like making his issue an educational thing while he has media attention. Suing the Vikings is making this worse and hurting his cause in my opinion

  43. I hope he does sue. He will be wasting time and money and get absolutely nothing out of it.

    It really bothers me that people abuse the anti-discrimination laws in this country. Apparantly people think that if they become vocal about a cause they are immune from losing their job for performance issues because any adverse decision becomes retaliation in their minds.

    Thankfully the NFL has stats showing that Kluwe is a mediocre and overpaid punter that has failed to earn a spot on several other teams. This should be an open and shut case.

  44. Maybe Klu-less will take a break from Deadspin and read some of this reaction to his classless reaction to losing his job. These comments also give me hope for the future that not everyone buys into the media attention fame diggers.

  45. I agree with pillowporkers post (1046 AM).

    I would add the fact that Kluwe has no standing in the suit. Being gay makes a person part of a protected class of people under the law (as the author stated) but supporting gay rights does not put you into that class. Unless Kluwe comes out and says he is gay and can prove Priefer/Vikings knew it and that they fired him because of him being gay (not his statements or declining production or financial cost) there is no way he can win.

    What would Kluwe gain by getting a guy fired? Revenge is about it because he surely won’t get a job out of it.

  46. Klu-less and his Gay Storm Troopers would rather see Coach Priefer punished, vilified and demonized in the media BEFORE the investigation is complete just to advance their minority deviant life style.

    It makes me sick.

    I applaud the Vikings for retaining a good coach BECAUSE HE IS A GOOD COACH, and not just because he’s been accused of something by some linguini wienie.

    And considering the investigation was WELL underway at the time Priefer was retained, I’m guessing the Klu-less allegations are about as credible as his punting.

  47. Ok, Kluwe…. We get it. Gay rights. Blah, blah, blah…
    Put down the rainbow flag and go away.
    The whole gay rights narrative is getting tiresome.
    Did you hear that, media? I’m looking at you…

  48. There are two issues here. First, the attorney’s complaint regarding Priefer’s retention is a joke — Priefer is under contract and also under MN employment law, no adverse employment action is undertaken until the investigation is complete. It’s not done, and even if it is, employer’s don’t necessarily fire employees for the first inappropriate comment — they warn them and require training. Second, Priefer didn’t elect not to retain Kluwe, Spielman did, Kluwe never reported Priefer’s acts, and there are plenty of facts demonstrating a legitimate business reason for releasing the guy (ie, higher salary, avg numbers). I used to get a kick out of Kluwe, but now he’s just disappointing.

  49. Kluwe watched the same thing happen to Ryan Longwell before. Would it be too cynical to suggest that Kluwe’s vocal activism was partially a plot to try to prevent the Vikings from doing the same thing to him? If you’re a model citizen and they cut you, you have nothing to say. If you get cut after causing a lot of problems while advocating for some politically correct cause, then you have a lawsuit.

  50. Kluwe reminds me a lot of the Vikings Trolls.

    Talking silly hoping to draw attention and noticed just a little bit longer.

    Regardless of how tired people are of hearing their nonsense or how silly they look.

  51. Florio,

    I know that you sort of practiced law at some point in your life–but to think that a lawsuit from Kluwe has ANY shot of withstanding a summary judgment motion is absurd. Unless there is an email/letter/recorded phone conversation where the vikings represent that the sole reason he was released is based on his support of gay marriage (which there is a 0.000000000000000001% chance of such evidence existing) the case won’t ever see a jury.

    Stop giving this guy publicity-he’s clearly unstable.

  52. I look forward to seeing Kluwe try to prove his case in court. The Vikings’ backup long snapper cost Longwell his job the year before and you never heard boo about it afterwards. Punters and kickers are replaceable, even Chris Kluwe.

  53. Kluwe should give this up and just get a TV job sitting between all the gasbags on The View. He would fit in perfectly.

  54. I hope Priefer countersues Kluwe for every nickel he has made in the NFL. Kluwe is a joke. Whiny, cry baby kicker who sucks now so he is trying blame everyone and everything he can rather than take responsibility for his declining talent

  55. Kluwe…

    You were a bad punter for two years prior to being cut and you set to be near the top of punter salaries for 2013. The Vikings drafted a younger and much better punter who costs less than a quarter of what you would have made in 2013. Not only that, but that punter has not made himself a major distraction like you did, by repeatedly flaunting a very controversial and unpopular point of view.

    So, please just go away and stop trying to ruin a man’s career because you’re angry that he did his job by getting rid of you for not doing yours.


    — Vikings fans everywhere.

  56. I was a client of that attorney Clayton Halunen and I can’t say anything good about him. He is not a good attorney! I regret to this day my decision to choose Clayton Halunen to represent me in my case.

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