Strong words from a former Minnesota Vikings punter and just as strong of a reaction as Chris Kluwe wrote an article for Deadspin saying his ex-special teams coach made anti-gay comments.
The article titled "I Was An NFL Player Until I Was Fired By Two Cowards And A Bigot" lashes out at Vikings former head coach Leslie Frazier and GM Rick Spielman, but the focus and so-called bigot was Mike Priefer. (Via Deadspin)
"Kluwe writes quote, 'Mike Priefer in one of the meanest voices I can ever recall hearing, said: "We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows."'" (Via WCCO)
Kluwe punted for the Vikings for eight years before his release this past offseason.
He was vocal in advocating for social issues during his time in Minnesota, especially when the state put a same sex marriage ban to voters that ultimately failed in the fall of 2012. (Via KSTP)
That included writing his first article for Deadspin in September 2012 when a Maryland state legislator criticized another NFL player for speaking out in support of gay marriage. The article caused a stir for both the topic and profanity Kluwe used to make his piont. (Via Deadspin)
"Do you anticipate any kind of reprimand or talking to or anything from the team?" "I don't know. They'd be within their rights to say something because as much as I am representing myself, I do also represent the team." (Via KARE)
Over the course of the season, Kluwe says Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer grew increasingly frustrated with his speaking out on non-football issues eventually leading to the anti-gay comments. Vikings beat reporters say it was clear the two weren't on the best of terms.
However, Priefer released a statement Thursday night saying he vehemently denied ever saying what Kluwe wrote. "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." (Via CBS)
The Vikings also released a statement, noting that Kluwe said owner Zygi Wilf had supported the punter's same sex marriage 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." (Via Minnesota Vikings)
Some sportswriters lend that credence. One ESPN reporter wrote if Kluwe's account of Priefer's comments are true, it must be dealt with.
Still Kevin Seifert points out Kluwe's 2012 mediocre performance in writing, "Kluwe's stated confidence that his 'activism was the reason I got fired' is a convenient storyline, one that has already drawn a great deal of attention, but it isn't supported by the full set of facts." (Via ESPN)
Deadspin kept the article — which was posted mid-day Thursday — at the top of its homepage into Friday morning, and it had more than 2.5 million views at that time.
Since the Vikings released him, Kluwe has not caught on with another team, though he says he has had tryouts.