Chris Kluwe calls for Priefer's firing, mulls hostile workplace claim [INTERVIEW]

Categories: Chris Kluwe

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You say Priefer began using homophobic language after you came out in favor of gay marriage -- but not before. Why do you think he did this? Was he trying to mess with you, trying to get a rise out of you?

CK: I think at first it may have been joking. You know, half serious, half joking, trying to get a rise. But when he said, "We should round up all the gays and send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows," that was said in a completely dead serious tone of voice. And at that point, I knew, OK, there's something else here. This is not messing around anymore.

But there was a period where you thought he was joking, maybe taking it a little too far, but not malicious?

CK: It was uncomfortable, but again, it was something that -- in the NFL, you can't really tell your coach, "Hey, stop saying these things to me." Especially when you're coming up on a contract year. You have to make it through the season with these people. And it only gets worse as the season goes on, that's a constant for every year.

I think that quote you just mentioned is the one that sticks out to a lot of people: "We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows."

CK: Yeah, and again, for me, that's really where it crosses over that line from, "OK you're not being politically correct, but maybe you're just teasing or whatever," to, "OK, now you really mean what you say, and the tone in which you said it -- you know, that's messed up."

Did you ever bring this to the attention of any of [Priefer's] superiors?

CK: No. I didn't bring it to coach Frazier because honestly I didn't trust him at that point, after everything he had said about me not speaking out on the issue anymore. And it's not like I can just walk to Zygi's office and be like, "Hey, Zygi how are you doing today?" Again, I felt that if I just kept my head down and did my job, hopefully this would blow over.

So you didn't feel like there was anyone in place above Priefer who you could bring this to, and you could trust?

CK: No, not really. I mean, in NFL world, it's a very close, tight-knit world. The instant you start saying stuff about that, no matter how much you want to try to keep it a secret, it gets out. And you get black-balled from the NFL.

The Vikings released a statement today, they said this was the first time they've been aware of these allegations. Do you think that's true?

CK: Oh yeah, I'm pretty sure it's true. I didn't tell anyone else, because, again, the instant you make allegations like this is the instant you're done playing in the NFL. Case in point, look at the Jonathan Martin situation. There's a very good chance Jonathan Martin never plays again in the NFL, because he's been labeled as a guy who speaks out against his teammates or his coaches.

How do you respond to the people who will say, this the ranting of a disgruntled ex-employee to his ex-employer?

CK: They can say that. But I've presented my case as logically as I can, and it's up to people to make their own decisions.

You say there were other people in the room when [Priefer] made that last comment we were just talking about. Do you think anyone else who was present would come out and verify that that is what he said?

CK: If that ends up being the case, yeah, I think they would, but I'd prefer it not to be. Because some of those people are my friends. Some of them still play in the league, and I'd prefer to keep them out of this. They'll get painted with the same brush and then that's it.

Even if the Vikings seemed to be punishing you for public statements, some will point out that you didn't make any other NFL rosters, either. Do you think your persona hurt you in pursuing those other jobs?

CK: Yes, I think it did. As an aging veteran with the veterans minimum salary -- you know, first off you're trying to compete against a younger guy who doesn't cost as much, and then you also have a reputation for speaking your mind. And most coaches are going to be like, "I don't want to put up with that from a punter." All things being equal, they're going to go with the guy who doesn't speak his mind.

And what kind of message does that send to other professional athletes who would want to speak out on an issue like gay marriage, or another controversial political issue?

CK: I think it sends the message that the NFL hopes it sends: that you should talk about football all the time, and that everything should be about football, and don't do anything else except be football. Because as a corporate mindset, that's exactly what they want.

You've had some time to reflect on how this all played out now. What bothers you the most?

CK: Just the fact that you shouldn't treat people that way. I mean, that's messed up. It's one thing to disagree with me over my opinion. That's fine. I respect that, and I welcome people to do that. But when you fire me for a job that I have been doing perfectly capably, and had been doing capably for multiple years, that's trying to get rid of someone because you don't agree with them.

When I interviewed you in fall of 2012, you talked a lot about how major league sports had come a long way in becoming more accepting toward homosexuality. After all that's happened, do you still believe this is true?

CK: Yeah, I think they've come a really long way. I think 10 years ago, no one would even be talking about this. It would just be swept under the rug and business as usual. Look at things that were said back in the early 2000s and late 1990s. It was OK for NFL players to come out and publicly say, "Being gay is a horrible thing, you should never do that." And people were like, "Sure, yeah, you can do that." And now we're talking about a story where my coach made homophobic comments toward me, and people are like, "Well, that's wrong, you shouldn't do that. You shouldn't have a job if you do that." To me, that's progress.

Where do you go next?

CK: I have no idea. I'll let you know when I get there.

Have you thought about filing a hostile workplace claim against the Vikings, anything like that?

CK: That just really depends on what happens. I'd prefer not to. But again that depends on what other people do. I'd prefer that it was just kept between me, Spielman, Priefer, and Frazier, but sometimes that's just not how the world works.

Anything else you want people to know?

CK: Yes. For 8 of the 8 years I was there, the vast majority of the people in the Vikings organization treated me with respect, treated me with dignity, treated me like a human being. It's unfortunate that this has to paint the organization in a bad light, when it really is just me, Priefer, Frazier, and Spielman. Like I said, I wish it hadn't had to come to this. But it did.

Is there an appropriate action you think the Vikings should take against Priefer?

CK: I think they should fire him.

So you're saying, not only should he not get Frazier's position, but you think he should be fired from his current position?

CK: Yes.

More coverage on this story:

The 5 most dispiriting revelations in Chris Kluwe's nuclear Deadspin piece
Vikings push back against Chris Kluwe with defensive statement
Mike Priefer: "I vehemently deny the allegations made by Chris Kluwe"

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44 comments
cardiecl
cardiecl

Bush league and reckless journalism to place the quote Mike Priefer is alleged to have made (which he denies) next to his picture.

midwestexplorer81
midwestexplorer81 topcommenter

I thought Kluwe was a good guy until this. Bottom line is if what he said about the vikings special teams coach is true then Kluwe tolerated it just fine until after he was let go and until AFTER he failed to make any other team in the NFL. Kluwe should stop embarrassing himself and get a real job.

David Olson
David Olson

Can't wait for the Vikings to sue him for libel. :)

KrisTheSane
KrisTheSane

Hilarious


Kluwe blasts his former employers for firing him for his opinions, then whines that they need to fire Preifer for his opinions....


Not too PC, lol

senatortombstone
senatortombstone

I care nothing for professional sports (which is but one of many circuses) and long for the day when people stop making idols out of athletes. Was CK over the hill and due for replacement, was he punished for speaking out on a controversial issue, or was he just generating too much negative publicity? I don't know and I don't care. I would have sympathy and respect for CK if he would stand up for people with opposing views, but in similar situations, like Phil Robertson.

kurt124
kurt124 topcommenter

The NFL (or most organization) by nature do not like causes Left or Right. The format is "Shut up so i can pay you lots of money" and that's fine. Kluwe exemplifies Democrats and the left: Pissed off, In your face, never happy, mischaracterize, ostracize, divide, and Scorched Earth Tactics. He is not helping his cause.

BJamesBrooks
BJamesBrooks

I agree that these comments should not be attributed to the coach without some more evidence. Posting a banner with the coach's photo and a quote of the "nuke the island" comment is poor form and terrible journalism. This is a story but only if it can be verified and not solely based on one man's accusation. The timing along with his statement that he hopes this stays between him, the two coaches and the GM is comical. He wrote the Deadspin article and is now going on several radio and tv talk shows to discuss it??? Doesn't sound like a guy who is trying to keep it contained. Chris Kluwe is not a "dumb jock" in fact he comes across as a pretty bright guy therefore his comments come across as disingenuous. He is a prolific user of social media and would certainly have known the impact his original article would have in this arena. It certainly doesn't help his cause that no other team picked him up. Losing your identity as a professional athlete, not to mention the paycheck, can be very hard for people and this has a hint of a guy that needs to find a reason for that that doesn't involve his diminished skills that come with age. I wouldn't know if that's the case because I haven't done the work of looking into it deeper just like CP hasn't done the work to see if what Kluwe alleges has legs.

Dave Salmonson
Dave Salmonson

But if he got a hillbilly make over to sell duck calls, well then it would be cool for him to air his opinions.

Nick Longworth
Nick Longworth

I did in fact read Kluwe's piece in its entirety. His "quotes" he willfully admits to be the "best of his recollection". As a fully employed practicing journalist myself, I would not be comfortable putting my name on these glorified TMZ pieces.

Lily Ann
Lily Ann

Seriously, reading comments on City Pages is costing me my sanity. It shows the incredible amount of ignorance in my state and it's so disheartening. I know there is ignorance everywhere but I didn't know there was so much of it here. See also: PETA bikini post comments. Who new redneck was breeding and thriving so much in the cold?

Shawn Kuiper
Shawn Kuiper

Megan if he were to file a claim after he arrived Oakland whom is a different employer Oakland would have probably had to keep him instead of cutting him cause he could not do his primary job punt the football. His excuse is as lame as his allegation. The guy wants someone to pay him for speaking out on issues he believes in, that is fine then go work for an advocacy group and not expect to be on the payroll of an NFL team as a position player when you can't perform the position anymore...

Amanda Celeste Jaeger
Amanda Celeste Jaeger

All your questions would be answered if you had just read the interview and Kluwe's original piece. The CP is not publishing his article as *the truth*; they are just reporting the fact that *it was published*. CP even uses the word "allegedly" to describe the coach's actions. They are just reporting an interview where Kluwe says words; that's what news outlets do. Reporting news is supposed to be all about facts; but when one side refuses to talk to the press, that doesn't mean the other side should not be aired.

Dewey Schmidt
Dewey Schmidt

Why bring it to light now? Cause he don't have a job?

Scott Buss
Scott Buss

I think he has a new book out or coming out.

Chad Howard
Chad Howard

Ben Leber just finished destroying Kluwe on KFAN. Kluwe avoided answering the tough and direct questions and made it all out to be me, me, me when he did provide an answer. This is nothing more than a butt hurt, nobody wants me, must make my name relevant somehow story. It's available for listening on the KFAN Power Trip morning page.

Gregg Gustafson
Gregg Gustafson

We need moral leadership like this. Thank you, Chris Kluwe.

Megan Lefebvre
Megan Lefebvre

to the people asking why he waited, if you actually read the full piece on deadspin, he outline very clearly why he waited to talk about this.

Michael Schoenherr
Michael Schoenherr

I think it took a huge amount of courage for him to speak out, and use his celebrity to expose hate and intolerance, knowing it would end his NFL career. He's a leader, the world needs more of that

Chad Howard
Chad Howard

He's just saying these things now.... a year after he was released?

Nick Longworth
Nick Longworth

Shawn, City Pages have never let those pesky facts, or any sort of objective reporting get in the way of a good story!

Shawn Kuiper
Shawn Kuiper

I am a bit confused because Kluwe says this is what happened it somehow makes it a fact? Has anyone (CP) found anyone to confirm or back up his story? Why wait till now to bring this to light? I mean if this really happened why not bring it up the day he got cut? Are we creating news by reporting anything anyone will say that inflammatory or are we reporting news based on facts? I think we all agree if true it needs to be dealt with but what if it is NOT true? Then what? Do you retract your story and not give Kluwe the free platform to spew that he does not deserve? If not true you may be costing others their jobs for no reason. News is suppose to be about facts and when you only have one side you don't have all the facts.

DBleezyJonez
DBleezyJonez

@citypages Why is Chris Kluwe so interesting to you guys? Because he once played football and has ambitions that aren't football related?

brakinggnus
brakinggnus

@license2confuse A&E said that was the reason they suspended Phil. The Vikings have denied it. Do you comprehend the difference?

TweetsAreYours
TweetsAreYours

oh good, more news about a guy who wasn't worth $1M a year to punt in the NFL. can we get an update on Ryan Longwell, too?

kurt124
kurt124 topcommenter

Take Heart Lily White Liberal Ann, since Liberals don't have kids much, our legacy is breeding just fine.  See also:  Abortion reducing population.  

Onan
Onan

He explains the timing with valid points if you read the whole thing.

kurt124
kurt124 topcommenter

On the Contrary.   He came out with this article after not getting picked up by any other team.   His Scorched Earth Democrat tactics will keep him out of a Job.  Now he can go Non-Profit.

_Joe_
_Joe_

He explains the timing with valid points if you read the whole thing.

cheepsoda
cheepsoda

@AnalogErik @panopticon13 @citypages @AndrewMannix Not if he's a public figure, Priefer would have to prove actual malice on the part of Kluwe to even start a defamation of character / libel suit. Anyone familiar with media law knows that proving malicious intent is very, very hard.


MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

@kurt124 Too bad your mom didn't have one.

_Joe_
_Joe_

@MicheleBachmann Ssshhh.... She doesn't run a newspaper.  She's editor of the entire internet.  Now we just have to get Rupar to respect her authoritay!

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

@kurt124 @MNjoe Was your birth one of those? Is that why you're such a conservative moron?

kurt124
kurt124 topcommenter

@MNjoe@kurt124MN Joe, To make yourself feel better go watch a Partial Birth Abortion, loser.

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