Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.
Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.
Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.
It looks as if the investigation into Chris Kluwe’s claims that Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer made anti-gay remarks during the 2012 season is close to becoming public.
All interviews have been completed, according to former U.S. Department of Justice attorney Chris Madel, one of the investigators, and the team’s independent investigation into Priefer has reached its conclusion. The findings are expected to be finalized and handed over to the Vikings next week.
After they receive the report, the Vikings may have to huddle up with the NFL’s legal team before the results are made public and an announcement is made about whether Priefer will be disciplined. That process could still take a couple of weeks, but the end is in sight.
Meanwhile, Kluwe’s attorney, Clayton Halunen, was scheduled to meet with the Vikings’ lawyers on Thursday to further discuss the investigation into Priefer.
Priefer was accused by Kluwe, the former Vikings punter, of making anti-gay remarks during the 2012 season. Kluwe, in an article published on the website Deadspin in January, also said that he believed his public support of marriage equality led to his release from the team in 2013.
The Vikings launched a lengthy investigation into Priefer, who has been on the staff since 2011. Madel is heading the investigation along with former Minnesota Supreme Court chief justice Eric Magnuson.
Priefer, who was retained by new coach Mike Zimmer, said earlier today that his focus is on football.
The investigation into Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer is expected to be wrapped up and released to the public in the coming weeks, perhaps as early as this weekend. Priefer was accused by former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe of making anti-gay remarks in team meetings.
Priefer, who was one of three coaches retained by new head coach Mike Zimmer, just spoke with reporters for the first time this offseason. He said his focus is on the Vikings, not the investigation.
“It’s been one of those things, I come to work every morning and I’m excited about the direction of this football team,” Priefer said after today’s morning walkthrough. “I really like our coaching staff and I’m excited about our new players and excited about the guys we retained and came back. So my focus has been totally on football.”
After Kluwe claimed Priefer made anti-gay remarks during the 2012 season and that the punter’s public support of LGBT rights led to his release in 2013, the Vikings launched an investigation into Priefer, who has been on the staff since 2011. The investigation is headed by former Minnesota chief justice Eric Magnuson and former U.S. department of justice attorney Chris Madel.
In a statement issued in January, Priefer “vehemently” denied the claims Kluwe made on Deadspin.
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said quarterback Christian Ponder “will be here” next season but the team still plans to address the need at quarterback in the offseason.
Ponder will enter the final year of his rookie deal and expected to make $3.2 million in base salary and bonuses. All of that money is dead money however, meaning it would still count against the cap if the Vikings opted to cut Ponder.
"Christian will be here; I don’t anticipate anything -- him not being here," Spielman said on Friday.
The 12th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft hasn’t solved the Vikings’ problem at quarterback over the last three seasons. He played just nine games last year and threw for a career-low 1,648 yards after playing all 16 games in 2012.
Spielman said he’s interested to see when Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner and quarterbacks coach Scott Turner get a chance to work with him.
“We’re not closing the door on anything and any player here,” Spielman said. “We’ve been through on personnel and our coaches and it’s a lot different when they’ve looked at our players and how they can utilize them this way or that way. I’m anxious to see when they get out there and get on the field with these guys that they’ll get a true sense of what they’re strengths and weaknesses are and how they can utilize it within their systems.”
Spielman hasn’t closed the door on bringing quarterback Matt Cassel back either, but he said the organization will bring in two quarterbacks in during the offseason. With a younger quarterback in the draft a sure lock at this point based on what Spielman and Norv Turner have said over the last two weeks, Spielman hinted he’d be open to bringing a veteran to “mentor” whoever the organization selects.
Other notes from Spielman’s 50-minute interview:
*Spielman said defensive end Michael Sam’s decision to openly announce he’s gay will not impact his draft stock with the organization. He said it’s wrong if a team does change its status on Sam because of his announcement and plans to judge him purely on football.
Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer is the center of an independent review regarding claims from former punter Chris Kluwe of anti-gay remarks.
“I know that we will make sure that our culture is created where he could fit in to our locker room,” said Spielman on if the Vikings select Sam in the draft.”
* The Vikings completed their staff by hiring head strength and conditioning coach Evan Marcus and assistant strength and conditioning coach Jeff Hurd on Friday. Marcus has 22 years of coaching experience and spent the last three seasons as the University of Virginia's Director of Football Training and Player Development. This will be Hurd's 29th year coaching and was the strength and conditioning coach during Turner's tenure as the Chargers head coach from 2007-2012.
Chris Kluwe got his wish, but Mick Tingelhoff's wait for the Pro Football Hall of Fame will stretch to at least 31 years since his first year of eligibility in 1984.
The nine-member seniors committee today selected former Raiders punter Ray Guy and former Falcons and Eagles defensive end Claude Humphrey as the two senior nominees to be considered for enshrinement in 2014. The senior nominees still must receive at least 80 percent of the vote from the full 46-member selection committee on Feb. 1, 2014 to enter the Hall of Fame.
Tingelhoff, a five-time Associated Press first-team All-Pro center, played for the Vikings for 17 seasons and never missed a preseason (90), regular-season (240) or post-season (19) game.
Guy became the first punter selected in the first round when the Raiders used the 23rd overall selection on him in 1973. He went on to play 14 seasons, making first-team All-Pro six consecutive years.
Kluwe, the former Vikings punter, campaigned for Guy's selection a year ago. He went so far that the league fined him for wearing a Post-it note saying "Ray Guy Hall of Fame" over the 50-year Hall of Fame anniversary patch on his jersey during a nationally-televised prime-time game.
Humphrey, meanwhile, played 14 seasons for the Falcons (1968-78) and Eagles (1979-81). He was a five-time first-team All-Pro pick. He also was a senior nominee in 2009, but fell short of the 80 percent of the votes from the full selection committee.
Humphrey is the sixth player to be chosen twice as a senior nominee. Of the 46 senior nominees to be voted on by the full committee, 38 have received enough votes to enter the Hall of Fame.
Tingelhoff was given strong consideration this year. Like the other candidates who weren't chosen, he's still eligible to be reconsidered in the future.
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