The Minnesota Vikings have suspended special teams coordinator Mike Priefer for three games after an independent investigation of the organization corroborated former punter Chris Kluwe's claim that Priefer made homophobic remarks during the 2012 season, the team announced Friday night.
Vikings owner Zygi Wilf and president Mark Wilf released a statement Friday, saying in part: "In this instance, Coach Priefer fell short of what is expected. Accordingly, we have decided to suspend Coach Priefer without pay for the first three games of the 2014 regular season. In addition, he will be required to satisfactorily complete specialized workplace training that will include an emphasis on the managing of diversity and sexual orientation.
"If Coach Priefer completes this training and conducts himself in accordance with our workplace policies, we will consider reducing the length of his suspension by one game.
"We will continue to hold all team members accountable and take the outlined critical steps to further educate everyone within our organization both individually and collectively. We will accept nothing less than creating a franchise that Minnesotans and Vikings fans everywhere can be proud of on and off the field."
ESPN obtained an email from a source close to the investigation, in which Kluwe's attorney, Clayton Halunen, told investigator Chris Madel on July 8 he did not think the report -- which includes a 150-page summary, footnotes and interview transcripts among other evidence -- should be made public, instead arguing for an executive summary of the findings. Halunen said, however, that the executive summary he was referring to in the email is the same as the 150-page document he is now trying to get in court, adding that he and Madel were only discussing the omission of report footnotes and interview transcripts that would bring sensitive personal information to light.
A 29-page summary of the investigation the Vikings released on Friday night, after a review from the law firm of Littler Mendelson PC, was not acceptable to Halunen or Kluwe, the attorney said. That summary stated there was no evidence to support Kluwe's claim that the Vikings released him in May 2013 for his support of same-sex marriage.
Halunen said the punter still plans to file suit against the team in Minnesota state court next week and will seek damages in the neighborhood of $10 million.
Priefer denied Kluwe's claims in a statement after the punter first published them in Deadspin on Jan. 2, and again denied making homophobic remarks in his first meeting with investigators on Jan. 6. However, after long snapper Cullen Loeffler told investigators on April 23 that he did hear Priefer make a comment about "putting all the gays on an island and nuking it," Priefer said he "was not going to disagree" with Loeffler's statement about the comment. Loeffler told investigators, though, that Priefer was joking at the time, and that both he and Kluwe laughed off the remark.