Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe wrote a a lengthy and scathing column, published online Thursday by Deadspin, detailing the reasons he feels he was released by the team prior to the 2013 season.
Kluwe, who spent all eight of his NFL seasons with the Vikings, wrote:
"It's my belief, based on everything that happened over the course of 2012, that I was fired by [special teams coach] Mike Priefer, a bigot who didn't agree with the cause I was working for, and two cowards, [then-head coach] Leslie Frazier and [General Manager] 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."
Kluwe, who said he spends the off-season in Huntington Beach, writes that Frazier and Spielman each made separate attempts to keep him from expressing certain opinions publicly during and after the 2012 season.
When Kluwe became a spokesman for gay rights when the topic was a hot political issue that year, he says, Priefer started using homophobic language in his presence -- first in a joking manner and eventually "in one of the meanest voices I can ever recall hearing," after which the interactions between the two became "stilted."
Kluwe says he doesn't believe the company line that other punters were brought in after that season just for competition, but he waited to tell his side of the story because he didn't want to cause a distraction for his friends still on the team and he had hoped to continue his NFL career with another team (it didn't happen).
He states that there is one overall reason for coming forward with his story now, just days after Frazier was fired as the Vikings' coach:
"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. (According to the Pioneer Press, he is "the only in-house candidate with a chance" at the head-coaching job.)
"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."
Schilken writes for the Los Angeles Times