When punter and vocal LGBT ally Chris Kluwe was cut from the Minnesota Vikings back in May, many (including the governor) suspected that there was more to the story than what was being told by team officials. Although officials said they cut him early to give him a better chance at singing with another team, many believed he was cut for being too outspoken on LGBT rights issues. Kluwe, for his part, maintained the same answer when repeatedly asked his thoughts on the speculation: "I honestly don't know, because I'm not in those meetings with the coaches and administrative people."
And while Kluwe contends that he still doesn’t know for sure if his activism was the reason for his firing, he now says he is pretty confident it was. In a new article published on Deadspin, Kluwe blasts his former coaches, saying in part:
It's my belief, based on everything that happened over the course of 2012, that I was fired by Mike Priefer, a bigot who didn't agree with the cause I was working for, and two cowards, Leslie Frazier and 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 says that Priefer (pictured right), who is the special-teams coordinator for the Vikings, repeatedly used homophobic language in his presence, including an instance back in November 2012 where Priefer went on a rant saying “We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.” As the season went on, Kluwe says Preifer became increasingly irritated with his activism.
Kluwe also says that others on the coaching staff were uncomfortable with his outspokenness and attempted to dissuade him from speaking out on the matter of same-sex marriage and LGBT equality.
Later in the piece, Kluwe goes on to explain why he waited so long to tell his side of the story and closes by bringing up the larger question of homophobia in the NFL
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.
Some will ask if the NFL has a problem with institutionalized homophobia. I don't think it does. I think there are homophobic people in the NFL, in all positions, but that's true for society as well, and those people eventually get replaced. All we can do is try to expose their behavior when we see it and call them to account for their actions.
The entire article is well worth a read. If you are interested, head over to Deadspin HERE.