Vikings’ Mike Priefer denies allegations by former punter Chris Kluwe

Minnesota special teams coach Mike Priefer, shown in July 2013, defended himself Thursday against allegations made by former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe.
(Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press)

Minnesota special teams coach Mike Priefer denied former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe’s allegations Thursday that he made homophobic comments and discriminated against the player for his pro-gay rights stances while he was with the team.

“I vehemently deny today’s allegations made by Chris Kluwe,” Priefer said in a statement released in response to a first-person account written by Kluwe and published online Thursday by Deadspin.

“I want to be clear that I do not tolerate discrimination of any type and am respectful of all individuals. I personally have gay family members who I love and support just as I do any family member.”

Kluwe suggests in the article that he was released by the team prior to the 2013 season for reasons other than his production on the field, calling Priefer a “bigot” and then-coach Leslie Frazier and General Manager Rick Spielman “two cowards” for their roles in his firing.


In a statement Thursday the Vikings said Kluwe was released based solely on his football performance: “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.”

In his article Kluwe states that Priefer started making anti-gay comments around him after the punter began publicly advocating for gay marriage in 2012. Kluwe alleges that the coach “said on multiple occasions that I would wind up burning in hell with the gays, and that the only truth was Jesus Christ and the Bible” and said in a meeting that “we should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.”

Priefer said such comments conflict with the atmosphere he has tried to create as a coach.

“The primary reason I entered coaching was to affect people in a positive way,” Priefer wrote. “As a coach, I have always created an accepting environment for my players, including Chris, and have looked to support them both on and off the field.”

Priefer is said to be well-liked within the organization and several players have come to his defense on Twitter, including Jeff Locke -- the punter who replaced Kluwe -- and kicker Blair Walsh, as well as fullback Jerome Felton and safety Harrison Smith.

(1/2) In my short time with the Vikings, Coach Priefer has treated me with respect and has helped me develop as a player and person.— Jeff Locke (@jefflocke18) January 2, 2014

I fully stand behind Coach Priefer, Rick Spielman, and Leslie Frazier. Just released a statement regarding the issue at hand.— Blair Walsh (@BlairWalsh3) January 2, 2014

Coach Mike Preifer has always been professional and one of the best special teams coaches I have been around! In any meeting I have been— jerome felton (@jfelton45) January 2, 2014


In, I have never witnessed him say anything close to what’s been alleged. That’s just my experience!— jerome felton (@jfelton45) January 2, 2014

Since I’ve had the privilege of playing for Mike Preifer he has been nothing but a class act coach and a respectful human being. #Vikes— Harrison Smith (@HarriSmith22) January 2, 2014

The Vikings said in their statement that they would thoroughly review the matter.



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