Kluwe: Cut due to outspoken views

Chris Kluwe

MINNEAPOLIS -- Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe alleged in a Deadspin story that he was released before the season as a result of being outspoken in support of same-sex marriage and was a victim of homophobic remarks by Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer.

Reached by ESPN.com, Kluwe said he didn't approach the team, the NFL or the NFL Players Association about Priefer's comments at the time because doing so is "something that ends careers."

According to Kluwe's piece, which was posted Thursday and titled "I was an NFL player until I was fired by two cowards and a bigot," Priefer criticized the punter throughout the 2012 season for his support of same-sex marriage, allegedly saying in a November team meeting that "we should round up all the gays, send them to an island and nuke it until it glows."

Priefer released a statement Thursday night, 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. "I personally have gay family members who I love and support just as I do any family member. ...

"The comments today have not only attacked my character and insulted my professionalism, but they have also impacted my family. While my career focus is to be a great professional football coach, my number one priority has always been to be a protective husband and father to my wife and children. ..."

Kluwe told ESPN on Thursday that he did not feel he could report the comments to coach Leslie Frazier, whom Kluwe said had already told him to stop speaking out on same-sex marriage, and added he feared no other team would sign him because of his views.

He also felt his views put him at odds with Priefer, Frazier and general manager Rick Spielman.

Kluwe declined to name the other players who witnessed Priefer's alleged comments, and said he wouldn't unless "this goes legal. I'm not dragging anyone in unless I have to."

Frazier, who was fired Monday, responded to a text message, saying he had no comment.

"The NFL has become such a corporate mindset. They want to make sure there's no distractions anywhere, ever," Kluwe said. "In the ideal NFL world, you show up to play on Sundays, and that's it -- they take you out of your box and put you back in.

"Until we get past the idea that money is the overwhelming influence and you can't live your life at the same time, people will view activism as a distraction."

The Vikings issued a statement Thursday saying they would review Kluwe's allegations. They also said there was no ulterior motive for his release.

"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," the statement read. "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."

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