Kluwe: Priefer’s suspension not enough
Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe criticized how the team responded to a six-month independent investigation into his claims of homophobic behavior in the organization.
Kluwe said a 29-page summary of the investigation gave an inaccurate representation of special teams coordinator Mike Priefer’s conduct.
The team announced Friday night that Priefer is suspended without pay for the first three games of this season after he admitted making a homophobic remark during the 2012 season.
However, Kluwe said that Priefer made several homophobic comments during the season and he still plans to follow through on his lawsuit against the team in state court next week.
Kluwe’s attorney, Clayton Halunen, plans to request the full 150-page report on the investigation. Halunen said Saturday he could get the full report within 30 days, according to ESPN.com.
Long snapper Cullen Loeffler told investigators he remembered Priefer talking about “putting all the gays on an island and nuking it.” Priefer, who denied making the remark when he met with investigators on Jan. 6, said he was “not going to disagree with it” after being told of Loeffler’s response in May.
Priefer apologized for the remark on Friday. His statement did not support Kluwe’s claim that he routinely criticized the punter for his support of same-sex marriage. However, Kluwe said he is confident a trial would support his claim that Priefer made several homophobic remarks.
“I think there’s a big difference between guys (talking) to independent investigators and guys being willing to perjure themselves,” Kluwe said. “They might remember things differently if it turns out there’s actual jail time at stake.”
Kluwe also said that kicker Blair Walsh, who told investigators that Priefer’s homophobic remark did not sound like something he would say, recalled the comment to Kluwe in April 2013. Halunen said he gave investigators text messages from Walsh to Kluwe that corroborated the claim.
NFL senior vice president of communications Greg Aiello praised Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf for ordering the investigation of Kluwe’s allegations.
“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,” Aiello wrote in an e-mail to ESPN.com.
However, Kluwe said Priefer’s punishment was not enough. Halunen had argued that Priefer should be suspended for four to eight games. That, Kluwe said, would have compared fairly to discipline handed to players and coaches involved in the bounty scandal with the New Orleans Saints and bullying and harassment scandal with the Miami Dolphins in recent years.
“Based on the NFL’s code of conduct, and the Vikings’ code of conduct, this is something that deserves a significant amount of time,” Kluwe said. “In the Bountygate, the head coach (Sean Payton) was suspended for a year. (Defensive coordinator) Greg Williams was suspended indefinitely. In the Miami investigation (of Jonathan Martin’s bullying claims), a trainer (Kevin O’Neill) and a coach (offensive line coach Jim Turner) were fired. A DUI, it’s a four-game suspension for that offense. I don’t think that should be out of the norm (for Priefer’s comments).”
A Vikings representative said general manager Rick Spielman detail Priefer’s suspension after the team reports for training camp next week.