The Vikings organization will investigate allegations made by former punter Chris Kluwe that an assistant coach repeatedly spoke derogatorily about gays during the 2012 season.
The Vikings retained two partners of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi to complete an independent review of Kluwe’s allegations. Former Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court Eric Magnuson and former U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney Chris Madel will lead the investigation, the team said.
“It is extremely important for the Vikings organization to react immediately and comprehensively with an independent review of these allegations,” Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf said in a statement.
An NFL spokesman said the Vikings contacted the league Thursday and has kept league officials “fully informed.” Kluwe said by phone that he will cooperate with the investigation.
“I gladly welcome the investigation,” he said. “I have no worries at all there.”
Magnuson has more than 35 years of practice and served as chief justice from June 2008 to July 2010. Madel is the chairman of his firm’s Government and Internal Investigations Group.
The Vikings say the investigation will include interviews with current and former members of the organization.
“This is a highly sensitive matter that we as an organization will address with integrity,” said Kevin Warren, Vikings vice president of legal affairs.
In an article published Thursday on the website Deadspin, Kluwe described special teams coordinator Mike Priefer as a “bigot” and accused coach Leslie Frazier and General Manager Rick Spielman of releasing him last spring largely based on his social activism, primarily his outspoken support of same-sex marriage.
Among his allegations, Kluwe recalled a remark by Priefer before a special teams meeting in 2012, writing: “As we sat down in our chairs Mike Priefer, in one of the meanest voices I can ever recall hearing, said: ‘We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.’ ”
Priefer issued a statement strongly denying Kluwe’s allegations.
“I want to be clear that I do not tolerate discrimination of any type and am respectful of all individuals,” Priefer said.
Several Vikings players, including kicker Blair Walsh, took to Twitter on Thursday night to offer Priefer their public support.
Kluwe told the Star Tribune that he stands by everything he wrote.
“I have witnesses,” Kluwe said. “I prefer not to call any witnesses unless it’s legally needed because those are my friends and teammates, and I’d like to keep them out of it.”
Kluwe said Friday he is not concerned about any potential legal action by Priefer.
“If I’m telling lies, then he has a very strong defamation lawsuit case,” Kluwe said. “If he wants to have his day in court, he’s more than happy to have it.”