The Vikings have officially announced head coach Mike Zimmer’s staff, and it includes special teams coach Mike Priefer, who is at the center of an independent review involving allegations made by former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe.
Kluwe, who has been a public advocate for LGBT social movements, claimed Priefer made anti-gay remarks while at Minnesota and was part of the reason why Kluwe was cut in early 2013. The Vikings launched an investigation into Kluwe’s claims, which Priefer denied, in early January. The investigation, headed by former Minnesota chief justice Eric Magnuson and former U.S. department of justice attorney Chris Madel, is expected to wrap up next month.
"It appears from our point of view that this whole investigation may have been one big charade,” said Kluwe’s attorney, Clayton Halunen, “because it appears that the Vikings are interested in doing business as usual. They are just going to protect Priefer as if nothing happened and simply pretend that this outrageous conduct didn’t occur, when the evidence is quite the contrary."
Vikings safety Mistral Raymond (@Mistral_Raymond) tweeted his support for Priefer:
Fortunate to have the opportunity to work w/ Coach Priefer for another year. One of the most stand up men I know in this business. #SKOL— Valencia's son... (@Mistral_Raymond) February 6, 2014
The Vikings officially introduced offensive coordinator Norv Turner and defensive coordinator George Edwards at press conferences this afternoon.
Among those also retained with Priefer include offensive line coach Jeff Davidson, whom the Vikings denied the Falcons permission to interview after the season, and wide receivers coach George Stewart, who for eight seasons has been one of the team's most popular coaches. Andre Patterson, who was defensive line coach for the Vikings in the late 1990s, returns.
“I am very excited about the coaching staff that we put together,” Mike Zimmer said in statement. “[General manager] Rick Spielman and I spent a lot of time talking to numerous candidates to ensure that we found the right coaches for this organization. Building a team that consistently wins all starts with coaching. We have an experienced and diverse staff that will work tirelessly to get the most out of our players. This offseason will be a great chance for us to work together and prepare for the upcoming season.”
Here are bios on the new (and in some cases old) coaching staff:
Norv Turner, offensive coordinator: In his 30th season as an NFL coach. Head coach for 15 seasons with Washington (1994-2000), Oakland (2004-05) and San Diego (2007-12). Offensive coordinator when Dallas won two Super Bowls (1992-93). Has eight seasons as an NFL offensive coordinator.
Jeff Davidson, offensive line coach: Returns for his fourth season with the Vikings and 19th season of coaching. Played four seasons in the NFL before career cut short by injury. Started on offensive line for Denver in 1991-92.
George Stewart, wide receivers coach: In his 32nd season as a coach and eighth with the Vikings. Stewart coached under Lou Holtz with the Gophers in 1984-85. Standout guard as a collegian at Arkansas (1977-80).
Scott Turner, quarterbacks coach: Son of OC Norv Turner. Coached wide receivers at Cleveland last season. Was Carolina offensive quality control coach in 2011-12. College quarterback at UNLV.
Kevin Stefanski, tight ends coach: Was assistant QB coach for Vikings the past five seasons. After spending three years as special assistant to the head coach. Former defensive back at Penn.
Kirby Wilson, running backs coach: Steelers running backs coach the past seven seasons. Has coached 27 years, and has Super Bowl rings with Tampa Bay (2002) and Pittsburgh (2008).
Klint Kubiak, assistant wide receivers coach: Son of former Texans coach Gary Kubiak, who is now Ravens offensive coordinator. Was with Vikings last season. Played defensive back at Colorado State.
Drew Petzing, coaching assistant: Worked in football operations with Cleveland last season.
George Edwards, defensive coordinator: Also defensive coordinator in Washington (2003) and Buffalo (2010-11). Coached linebackers in Miami last season. Worked under Zimmer as linebackers coach in Dallas when Zimmer was defensive coordinator for Cowboys.
Jerry Gray, defensive backs coach: Defensive coordinator with Buffalo (2001-05) and Tennessee (2011-13). Gray was a four-time Pro Bowl player as a defensive back during his nine-year NFL career (L.A. Rams, Houston, Tampa Bay) and was Pro Bowl MVP in 1990.
Andre Patterson, defensive line coach: In his 30th year of coaching. Also coached defensive line for the Vikings in 1998-99. Was assistant head coach/defensive line at Florida International last season. Has also worked in the NFL for Denver, Cleveland, Dallas and New England. Head coach at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo from 1994-96.
Adam Zimmer, linebackers coach: Son of head coach Mike Zimmer. Was assistant defensive backs coach under his dad in Cincinnati last season. Defensive assistant in Kansas City (2010-12) and New Orleans (2006-09). Won Super Bowl ring with Saints.
Jonathan Gannon, assistant defensive backs coach: Spent the past two seasons as defensive assistant/quality control under new secondary coach Jerry Gray in Tennessee. Also worked under Zimmer in Atlanta in 2007.
Jeff Howard, defensive assistant: Was assistant to ex-head coach Leslie Frazier last season. Was defensive quality control coach (2011) and safeties coach (2012) at Texas Tech. Played linebacker at Eastern New Mexico.
Robb Akey, assistant defensive line coach: First year in NFL after 24 seasons as a college coach. Head coach at Idaho (2007-12). As a player at Weber State, was coached by Zimmer, who was defensive coordinator. In 1988, he got his first coaching job under Zimmer.
Mike Priefer, special teams coordinator: Will be in his fourth season with the Vikings. Also special teams coordinator in Denver and Kansas City. Was 2012 NFL special teams coordinator of the year. Naval officer and helicopter pilot for six years (1989-94).
Ryan Ficken, special teams assistant: In his eighth season with the Vikings. Played wideout at Arizona State (1998-99).