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Ex-Vikings punter Chris Kluwe blasts Vikings (updated with statement from the team)

Posted by: Michael Rand under Vikings Updated: January 2, 2014 - 3:34 PM

If it was a normal, quiet offseason ... well, it just wouldn't be the Vikings now would it?

They've already fired their coach. They released a statement earlier today saying, "We are aware of the matter involving Erin Henderson," presumably in conjunction with this report.

And now former punter Chris Kluwe has gone scorched earth on Leslie Frazier, special teams coach Mike Priefer and GM Rick Spielman in a Deadspin post.

The majority of it centers around how Kluwe was treated as he began to express his political views in 2012 -- most specifically, his work with Minnesotans for Marriage Equality.

You will likely be interested in reading the whole thing. Much of it is a he said/he said recounting of his final season (2012) up to the time he was released. But here are the money sentences at the end:

So there you have it. It's my belief, based on everything that happened over the course of 2012, that I was fired by Mike Priefer, a bigot who didn't agree with the cause I was working for, and two cowards, Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman, both of whom knew I was a good punter and would remain a good punter for the foreseeable future, as my numbers over my eight-year career had shown, but who lacked the fortitude to disagree with Mike Priefer on a touchy subject matter. (Frazier was fired on Monday, at the conclusion of a 5-10-1 season.) One of the main coaching points I've heard throughout my entire life is, "How you respond to difficult situations defines your character," and I think it's a good saying. I also think it applies to more than just the players.

If there's one thing I hope to achieve from sharing this story, it's to make sure that Mike Priefer never holds a coaching position again in the NFL, and ideally never coaches at any level. ... It's inexcusable that someone would use his status as a teacher and a role model to proselytize on behalf of his own doctrine of intolerance, and I hope he never gets another opportunity to pass his example along to anyone else. I also hope that Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman take a good look in the mirror and ask themselves if they are the people they truly profess themselves to be.

Meanwhile, Vikings beat writer Chip Scoggins asked Kluwe a few questions today:

Q: Why write this?

Kluwe: For me, this is the point coaches and GMs are looking for career opportunities. I kept my silence for the entire year. I wasn’t going to bring that on the team during the year. Now that it’s pretty obvious that I’m not going to get another shot in the NFL, I feel like it’s a story that needs to be told.

Q: You obviously put your name on it, but just checking, you stand by everything you wrote?

Kluwe: Yep. It was all accurate. I have witnesses. 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.

Q: Are you worried about fallout from this?

Kluwe: No, not really. It’s one of those things where this is what happened. I realize there will be people that say, ‘This is just sour grapes. He’s upset that he got cut.’”

Kluwe mentions that he’s going to write a memoirs from his career some day ….

Kluwe: I’m going to write my football memoirs at some point and this will be part of it. A lot of it will be just looking at, this is the NFL, a billion dollar industry. There’s things that happen in this bubble of unreality that you would never believe happen. It just doesn’t make sense. But they happen.

Q: The part about Zygi approaching you to offer support was interesting.

Kluwe: That’s my thing. I’m wondering if possibly Frazier thought that maybe I had gone over his head to go talk to the owner. But that was completely out of the blue. I was just warming up before the game and Zygi came up and talked to me and said that. I was like, ‘Wow, that’s awesome.’”

--

UPDATE: The Vikings released this statement around 3:30 p.m. Thursday:

The Minnesota Vikings were made aware of Chris Kluwe’s allegations for the first time today. We take them very seriously and will thoroughly review this matter.

As an organization, the Vikings consistently strive to create a supportive, respectful and accepting environment for all of our players, coaches and front office personnel. We do not tolerate discrimination at any level.

The team has long respected our players’ and associates’ individual rights, and, as Chris specifically stated, Vikings ownership supports and promotes tolerance, including on the subject of marriage equality. Because he was identified with the Vikings, Chris was asked to be respectful while expressing his opinions. Team ownership and management also repeatedly emphasized to Chris that the Vikings would not impinge on his right to express his views.

Any notion that Chris was released from our football team due to his stance on marriage equality is entirely inaccurate and inconsistent with team policy. Chris was released strictly based on his football performance.

We will have further comment at the appropriate time.

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