Minnesota Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer will sit out the first three games of the upcoming season because of an anti-gay comment he made, Talking Points Memo reported.
A pair of Minneapolis attorneys hired by the team to investigate claims of rampant homophobia did not find strong evidence of a hostile work environment, but they did confirm that Priefer made a “single homophobic statement to [former Vikings punter Chris] Kluwe.”
The comment: “We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.”
The team announced Priefer’s three-game suspension on Friday.
The investigation stemmed from Kluwe’s release from the team and an article he wrote for Deadspin entitled, “I Was An NFL Player Until I Was Fired By Two Cowards And A Bigot.”
In Kluwe’s article, Priefer is identified as the “bigot.”
Kluwe claimed that he was harassed for his outspoken support of same-sex marriage, that former head coach Leslie Frazier pressured him to stop his public activism for same-sex marriage and that he was cut from the team over the issue.
Priefer has “vehemently den[ied]” Kluwe’s claims, and the investigating attorneys determined that it was bad football performance, not his social activism, that lost Kluwe his job.
“We… did not find sufficient evidence to establish that members of the Vikings organization attempted to discourage Kluwe from engaging in marriage equality or equal rights activism or that the Vikings harbored a homophobic hostile work environment,” the attorneys stated in their report. “The investigation materials support that the Vikings released Kluwe for football performance reasons and not his views on marriage equality.”
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