Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe decided Wednesday to hold off on suing the team, opting to continue discussions.
Kluwe had threatened to sue Wednesday for more than $10 million because the team won’t release the full investigation into his claims about what he calls its culture of discrimination. Kluwe and his attorney, Clayton Halunen, have said that “substantial” evidence was left out of the 29-page summary that the team released of the six-month investigation involving special teams coordinator Mike Priefer’s anti-gay remarks during the 2012 season.
But on Wednesday, Halunen said he had spoken with Vikings lawyer Joe Anthony and that they had agreed to recommend to their clients that they keep talking. “We will not be taking any action pending the completion of those discussions,” Halunen said.
Both sides weren’t sure how long the discussions will last. Halunen said he wouldn’t comment on the parameters of the upcoming conversations.
It was Kluwe’s legal team that reached out to the Vikings in an attempt to restart discussions, team spokesman Jeff Anderson said. He said the team believes it has comprehensively investigated Kluwe’s claims, put forth in a Jan. 2 article on the sports website Deadspin, that Priefer made an anti-gay comment in a team setting.
Last week, the Vikings suspended Priefer for three games. Priefer, who denied the remarks earlier this year, apologized in a statement. He must also attend sensitivity training. If he does, his suspension could shrink to two games. Also, the Vikings will donate $100,000 to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups.
“We have taken the appropriate action to ensure that we continue to have a workplace environment that respects tolerance, diversity and inclusion,” Anderson said. “We are willing to listen to Mr. Halunen’s continued concerns but will have no further comment in the interim.”
On Saturday, the NFL came out in support of the Vikings and their investigation. League spokesman Greg Aiello’s statement read: “We support our clubs enforcing their workplace policies and commend the Wilfs for doing a thorough investigation and taking appropriate steps in response to the findings.”
In the 29-page document summarizing the findings of the Vikings’ independent investigation — led by former U.S. Department of Justice attorney Chris Madel and former Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson — the national law firm Littler Mendelson, hired by the Vikings to assess the report, concluded that Priefer made an anti-gay comment to players, although there was no record of his having made other such comments.
The investigation also provided details on Kluwe’s being insensitive in team settings. The report notes Kluwe made light of the Penn State football sex-abuse scandal, which Kluwe confirmed Friday on Twitter. He tweeted that he and “over half the team” made Penn State “rape” jokes in front of coaches, for a month or more.
The investigation began after Kluwe’s initial accusation in the Deadspin article. He said Priefer said before a meeting: “We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.”
At that time, Priefer issued a statement that read in part: “I vehemently deny today’s allegations made by Chris Kluwe. I want to be clear that I do not tolerate discrimination of any type and am respectful of all individuals.”