(Photo: Reuters/Andy King)
Chris Kluwe, a former Minnesota Viking, said in a recent interview that he is encouraged the NFL has agreed to conduct an investigation into his claims that he was fired from his Midwestern team for his gay advocacy.
Kluwe, who was a punter for the Minnesota Vikings for eight seasons, recently wrote an open letter on Deadspin magazine, stating that he is "pretty confident" he was let go from the Vikings at the start of this season due to his outspoken support for same-sex marriage. Kluwe described his former special teams coach, Mike Priefer, as a "bigot" who allegedly once said, "We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows."
In the article, Kluwe calls for Priefer to lose his coaching position, but the current free agent later clarified to "Fox Sports Live" on Tuesday that his previous suggestion was perhaps exaggerated, and he would rather see Priefer get counseling and come back to the NFL as a role model and supporter of the LGBT community than lose his job entirely.
The Vikings have reportedly hired two attorneys to conduct an independent investigation into Kluwe's claims regarding Priefer. The attorneys are reportedly planning to interview both current and former members of the NFL organization to determine if Kluwe's claims are true.
Kluwe said in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper this week that he is encouraged by the NFL's decision to conduct an investigation, and he is "100 percent confident" his claims are true. Kluwe also told Cooper that he does not hold any ill feelings towards the Vikings organization, but rather Priefer and two other coaches, former head coach Leslie Frazier and Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman, who he blames for his firing.
"I don't have anything against the Vikings organization itself. I had eight wonderful years with the Minnesota Vikings," Kluwe told CNN. "I had a problem with three individual people within the Vikings, and the fact remains is that I did everything my coaches wanted me to do [on the field]. [...] No one ever told me that I wasn't doing what I was supposed to do."
"The only thing that changed from Year 8 to when I got cut is that I started speaking out on same-sex rights," he added. Kluwe also said that he has confidence in the organization's investigation because the Vikings have "a good track record of getting to the truth."
Priefer released a statement shortly after the publication of the Deadspin article denying any accuracy to the Kluwe's claims. "I want to be clear that I do not tolerate discrimination of any type and am respectful of all individuals [...] The comments today have not only attacked my character and insulted my professionalism, but they have also impacted my family," the coach said in a statement to the StarTribune of Minneapolis earlier this week.
The Vikings also released an official statement denying Kluwe's claims. "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."